The late Sayyed Ali Shustari narrates – It was a regular practice that on special occasions, Shaykh Murtuza Ansari and myself used to travel from Najaf Ashraf to Karbala for Ziyarat and stay there for some days.On one such occasion, we stayed in Karbala for three days. On the last night, Shaykh Murtuza Ansari said, let us return to Najaf tomorrow. I said okay. More than half the night had passed when I awoke suddenly. I saw the Shaykh performed ablution and after wearing his dress and turban, left the house. I thought that perhaps he is under the impression that it is morning and it is time to leave whereas it was just over midnight and the time for Namaz Shab had not yet set in.
I was thinking about this when he had crossed the courtyard. I was curious to know where he was going at this time of the night. I thought that I should follow him. Therefore, I quickly put on my robes and silently started following him so that he would not be aware of my presence.
He walked quickly through the streets of Karbala till such time that he came close to a door which was famous as “Baghdad.” There was a small house at this door. Shaykh Murtuza stood before this house. I too stopped at a distance and started observing him. I saw that he stood before the door and conveyed Salaams to someone. A person replied to his salaams in a beautiful voice from inside the house.
Shaykh Murtuza said, I intend to leave tomorrow. Do I have your permission? A voice from the house said, have you completed the work? He replied, no. The voice said, Then stay here. Don’t go tomorrow. Shaykh Murtuza said, I submit myself to your command. Saying this, he left from there.
When I saw him turning, I swiftly turned from there and ran home and lay down on my bed so that he would not know of my activity. As morning approached, we busied ourselves in Quran, namaz and supplications. Thereafter, I said, we have to leave for Najaf. Let us get ready for the journey. Shaykh Murtuza said, not today. We will go tomorrow.
I remained silent and deliberately did not seek any further explanation from him. In this way, the day passed and evening set in. I was intrigued to know the reason for this strange episode. Just the previous day, Shaykh Murtuza had indicated his intention to leave Karbala, then in the middle of the night, all by himself, he had performed ablution and gone to a place where after conveying salaams, he had sought permission from someone to leave. I could not understand who was this person and why was permission sought from him.
Finally, I decided that I would remain awake and see how this episode unfolds, what would happen tonight and where he will go. When it was time to sleep, I lay down on my bed, but remained awake. At exactly the same time as the previous night, Shaykh Ansari got up from his bed silently so that he would not disturb me. He put on his clothes, performed ablution and quietly left the house. As soon as he left, I got up from the bed and started following him silently. I saw that he took the same route as the previous night till he came to the same house and stood before its door and conveyed salaams.
A person replied to the salaams from inside the house. Then Shaykh Ansari said, do you permit me to leave tomorrow? In reply, the voice said, have you completed the work? The Shaykh said, yes Sir, I have completed the work. In reply, the person said, yes, you have my permission. You can leave.
Shaykh Murtuza turned to return to our house. I quickly came back to the house before him and lay down on the bed as if I had never moved from there. He came to our house and slept contentedly.
The next day, we left Najaf Ashraf as decided. When we had left the city gates and entered into the jungle area, I turned to him and said, I wanted to ask you two questions. He said, yes, go on. I said, What is the reason that he does not stay in good houses with courtyards and chooses to reside in small houses? (referring to the person who Shaykh Ansari was meeting in the night)
Shaykh Ansari said, who are you referring to? I replied, I am referring to our Master and leader who was in the house. I want to let you know that I am aware of the happenings; I only wanted to understand what is this secret? Shaykh Ansari asked me lot of questions to verify that indeed I was aware of the entire episode.
Then I said, my question is that on the first night, when you sought permission to leave, the Imam (as) asked you about a work which you had not done. On the second night, he asked you again when you sought permission to leave. This time, you affirmed that you had completed the work. What was this work? Shaykh Ansari said that I cannot disclose this to you. It is a secret.
Despite my insistence, he did not disclose the secret to me. He also took a promise from me that I would not disclose this episode to any person in his lifetime. I remained true to this promise and did not speak to any person about this incident till he was alive.
Ref: Shiftagaan Hazrat Mahdi, volume 3, page 49
Lessons from this incident
There are many lessons which can be derived from the above incident. Some of these are as follows:
It is a fact that our scholars do get an opportunity to meet with Imam Mahdi (as). However they do not prefer to disclose these incidents in their lifetime. Shaykh Murtuza Ansari is amongst those scholars who the opportunity to meet with Imam Mahdi (as) several times in his lifetime.
An incident is reported from Karbala when a person sought his needs at the shrine of Hazrat Abul Fazl Abbas (as). When he stepped out of the shrine a person came forward and offered him two bags – one for buying a house and the other for completing his Hajj. When he asked the source of the money, the person said that he was sent by Shaykh Murtuza Ansari. He rushed to the office of the Shaykh and sought from him the source of his information. The respected Shaykh said that I was ordered to send you the money by Hazrat Imam Mahdi (as).
It is our duty to remember these scholars in our prayers. As per the words of Imam Hasan Askari (as), if these scholars would not be there, then who would reach our words to you?