Story No. 338 – Imam Ali bin Hussain (as) and Muhammad bin al-Hanafiya (Announcement of Imamate)
After the martyrdom of his father Imam Hussain (as), our 3rd Imam at Karbala and after Imam Ali bin Hussain (as) had returned to Medina, some people began to consider Muhammad bin al-Hanafiya as their Imam. Muhammad bin al-Hanafiya was Imam Hussain’s younger brother. He was very pious and had not himself said that he was Imam. Only some misguided people began to consider him as their Imam.
Another version says Muhammad bin al-Hanafiya claimed that he was the Imam after his brother, Imam Hussain (as) [as Imam Hussain (as), had become Imam after the eldest brother, Imam Hasan (as)].
It became necessary to remove this misunderstanding. Therefore, Imam Ali bin Hussain (as) and his uncle, Muhammad bin al-Hanafiya decided to go together to where “Hajar Aswad” (the Black Stone near Holy Kaaba) was, during Hajj season, when thousands of pilgrims had assembled for the pilgrimage.
The stranger than fiction news must have spread like wild fire that Imam Ali bin Hussain (as) and Muhammad bin al-Hanafiya wanted the Black Stone to judge between them. Everyone must have wondered how could a stone judge between two persons? They must have eagerly waited to see the outcome when the two parties would approach the Black Stone. What would they say when the Black Stone, being a stone, would not respond to their arguments! This must have been the feeling of the crowd when the uncle and the nephew slowly advanced towards the Black Stone.
At first, Muhammad bin al-Hanafiya addressed the Hajar Aswad asking it to confirm who the Imam was? But there was no reply. Then Imam Ali bin Hussain (as) addressed the Hajar Aswad. Aloud and clear voice came from “Hajar Aswad” saluting Imam Ali bin Hussain (as) by his full name and confirming that he and he alone was the Imam of the time.