The Bahai Doubt

After acquiring knowledge about the genealogy of Imam Mahdi (as), the Bahais now focus their attacks on his respected mother by quoting incomplete traditions from Behar and other Shiah books to the effect that traditions provide many names for her. A few of these are given below:
  • Shaheede' Awwal in his book Durus has reported the name of the mother of Imame' Zaman (as) as Seqal

  • Some call her as Narjis and some have also called her as Maryan Binte Zayd.
  • In another narration from Gheyas Ibne Asad, the respected mother of Imam Mahdi (as) is called as Narjis, Sousan, and Seqal and at some places as Rehana.

Also read: A doubt about the Arabic name of the mother of Imam Mahdi (as)

Our response - The Shiah Viewpoint

  1. Firstly, why did the people not put this question to the mother of Imam Mahdi (as) so that her name would be clear for all?

  2. It is a universal custom that whenever a person is introduced then he is introduced through the name of his father. The mother's name is rarely, if at all, asked. The reason for this is that the family continues through the name of the father and not the mother.

  3. The family tree of the Holy Prophet (saw) goes back to Hazrat Adam (as), but how much do we know about his respected mother or grandmother. Information about them is extremely rare. So does this put a question mark on the prophethood of the Holy Prophet (saw)?

  4. A custom not limited only to olden days, even today, we find families who are not forthcoming with the names of the women of their houses to the extent that even on the wedding card, they do not write the name of the bride and in its place, introduce the bride through her father.

  5. There are some people who have passed before us who do not mention the full name of their daughters even while writing letters to them. For example, if one's daughter's name was Sakina, then one would write as Salaams to "S".

  6. There are sufficient narrations from the Holy Prophet (saw) and the respected Imams (as) which prove that a child was to be born in the house of Imam Hasan Askari (as) - a child who would fill this earth with justice and equity, just as it would be rife with injustice and inequality. The government was equally aware of these narrations and hence the soldiers who guarded the house of Imam Hasan Askari (as) were given standing instructions to enter the house of the respected Imam (as) without permission if need be, and if a child was found with any woman of the house, the child was to be beheaded immediately.

    Hence, it is possible that the Imam may have employed the services of many slave girls to protect the identity of the true mother of Imam Mahdi (as) in the event of the sudden and unlawful entry of government soldiers and the names which are being taken may be of any of these slave girls present in the house of Imam Hasan Askari (as) at the time of the birth of Imame' Mahdi (as)

  7. We witness that one person can have more than one name. In fact some are given different names right from the beginning. Some names are historical, some introductory, some are those used to call a person with love and some are to describe a person's characteristics. This custom is not limited to any era, race or tribe. Then why is the robe of suspicion thrown only on the holy personality of the mother of Imam Mahdi (as), Janabe Narjis on account of the multiple names narrated in traditions?

    This characteristic is found even in Allah, the Prophet, and Imams and even in Bab and Bahaullah - they have more than one name by which they are called and referred to. These names could be on account of their titles or their qualities and even their traits. Traditions narrate that Janabe' Zahra (sa) used to call Ameerul Mo'meneen Ali (as) by various titles as Abu Torab, Abul Hasan etc. Allah (swt) has also referred to his most superior creation, the Holy Prophet (saw) by numerous titles in the Quran. We find that Allah has referred to the Holy Prophet as Yaseen at some place and as Taha in another. Allah has not restricted Himself to call the Holy Prophet (saw) by his name, Mohammed Ibne Abdullah.

  8. It is recommended that one should change the names of the slaves after purchasing them as per the laws of the Shiah Faith (Refer to the books of laws under the chapter of business). It is not necessary to completely wipes out one's past. Hence it is possible that a slave or slave girl could have more than one name. Janabe' Narjis apparently was a slave girl so it should not come as a surprise that she could have more than one name. Names like Sousan, Rehana, Seqal and Narjis were names common amongst slave girls.

  9. As for the objection that why the mother of Imam Mahdi (as) was herself not asked this question, the answer is as follows. When Imam Hasan Askari (as) offered that Janabe' Narjis (as) could go back to her home, she implored and begged him that he (as) pray that she leave this world before him. (Behar, volume 3) Since the respected mother of Imam (as) expired at such a young age, it is unlikely that any narrator would have had an opportunity to ask her this question.

    In a narration from Behar volume 13 page 4, Janabe' Narjis, while enumerating her past to Basheer Ibne Sulayman, outlines her genealogy as follows - "I am .Then when I left the palaces of Rome in an ordinary dress and was arrested along with the Shaykh, I gave my name as Narjis since it was a common name amongst the slaves." The narration ends with the words of Imam Ali Naqi (as), "For surely she (Narjis) is the wife of Abi Mohammed (Imam Hasan Askari (as)) and the mother of the Qaem (as)"

  10. Another point to note is that when Imam Hasan Askari (as) did not reveal the birth of his son Imam Mahdi (as), except to a chosen few, how is it possible that he would reveal the name of mother the respected Imam?

  11. The Holy Prophet (saw) himself came in a dream to her and she accepted Islam in his presence. He (saw) also recited her nikah (marriage formula) with Imam Hasan Askari (as) who referred to her by her true name. Hence in the market place, she kept on providing different names with the intention that she would go only with the person who would take her true name.

  12. Lastly we must note that not knowing the name of the mother of a person does not cause disrepute. If this were not true, then the greatness of many prophets (as) would come under question as we do not know the names of their mothers.

Another doubt about the name of the mother of Imam Mahdi (as)
Imam Mahdi's (a.s.) mother was of Roman descent but she had Arabic names. This is not possible, and disproves Imam Mahdi's (a.s.) birth.

The Shiah Response

  1. There are several instances of non-Arabic personalities assuming an Islamic name under the instruction of an infallible. For instance, the great companion of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) - Salman Farsi (the Persian) was not always called Salman (an Arabic word). The name given by his parents was Roozbah. The Prophet later gave him the name of Salman. He was referred to as Salman Farsi after that, thereby indicating that he was a Muslim with an Arabic name but Persian origin. Finally Imam Sadiq (a.s.) instructed his companions to refer to him as Salman Muhammadi because he was included as a member of the Ahle Bait (a.s.) by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) himself (Muntahul Aamaal by Shaikh Abbas-e-Qummi).

    So even the surname of 'Farsi' that highlighted Salman's Persian origins were done away with by the Imam (a.s.). So as far as people today are concerned, Salman Muhammadi was an Arab unless someone discloses his Persian origin. Likewise Janabe Narjis (s.a.), mother of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) was given some Arabic titles (Maleka, Reyhaana) by Imam Muhammad Naqi (a.s.) as a sign of his fondness for her much like Prophet Muhammad's (s.a.w.a.) fondness for Salman.

  2. It is also not clear to me how a name can indicate anything about a person's origin. Several non-Arabs have assumed Arabic names. In fact, Muslims have Arabic and even Jewish names (Moosa, Haroon, Sulaiman, Dawood) based on names of Prophets (a.s.). It is a widely accepted fact that Muhammad, an Arabic word, is the most common first name across Arabs and non-Arabs. So if a person of Persian descent - Mirza Ali Muhammad assumes Arabic names like Ali and Muhammad then it is in the fitness of things that the mother of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) - 'Narjis/Maleeka' assumes Arabic titles under the instruction of an infallible Imam (a.s.).
    (Ref: Beharul Anwaar vol 51, Hadis 12)

  3. If Imam Mahdi's (a.s.) mother is not named explicitly or is named rather sparingly, I don't see how that can be a pointer to her non-existence! It is common in some cultures not to disclose the names of women. For instance, several books have been compiled on Akbar the Great (a Mughal), arguably the greatest Emperor in Indian history. The most famous compilation on Akbar is the Akbarnamah, written by Abul Fazl, one of the nine gems (Navratna) in Akbar's court. Not surprisingly, while this book captures the minutest details of Akbar, the most basic detail - the name of Akbar's wife's is missing. This is because it was considered offensive in that era and culture to mention about the women of the house. Historians till date are debating about the name of Akbar's wife. The oft-heard name of Jodhabai as Akbar's wife is in fact inaccurate and without any historical basis. This does not mean that Akbar did not have a wife. Given that Akbar was of Afghan descent, I believe the Bahais, at least those of Persian descent, should identify with this cultural trait since many of the customs in the Afghan/Persian belt are similar.

The Bahais, who have raked up the issue of the name of the mother of Imame' Zaman (as) and seek to create doubts in the minds of the masses, use abusive words which I do not deem fit to narrate in this article. Their malicious intent is only to deny the birth of Imame' Zaman (as) by creating doubts about his respected mother.

On a personal note, I would like to emphasize a responsibility which falls on each Shiah. In our gatherings, where we discuss about the Imams (as), we should also narrate incidents about their mothers with this recognition that truly they too have an obligation upon us. Their prayers will undoubtedly help us not only in this ephemeral world, but also in our everlasting hereafter.

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