AL – MAHDI (AF): THE LONG – AWAITED SAVIOR OF HUMANITY!
By Sheikh Muhammad Mahmud Turi
“It is He who has sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of Truth, that He may uplift it above all religions, though the unbelievers averse” Bara’a:34
May His everlasting peace and blessings be upon His noble servant our master Muhammad and his purified progeny.
As continuously noted in the last few weeks, Shaaban is very eventful. In contrast to the way some people think, history is generally important, so also its great personalities. The fifteenth day of this month is yet another important landmark as is considered by many scholars as the night in which the destiny of the year is designed. It is a time when the angels take the deeds of servants to heaven and new books are opened to record new deeds in the following year.
The day has added merit exclusively to the followers of Ahlul – bait given its generally acknowledged significance and historical relevance. Based on reported traditions, Imam Muhammad, al – Mahdi may Allah speedy his re – emergence was born in the 255th year after hijra of the noble messenger at Samarra in Iraq!
The piece of this week is on the master of age; the long awaited and promised Mahdi may Allah hasten his re – emergence. The issue of this long awaited savior and messiah of humanity is a doctrinal aspect that cut across religions and beliefs of different people from antiquity. However, this article is just an introductory on this wide topic in reflection of the birthday. I hope to write more on this later.
All the heavenly religions and other ancient beliefs have the doctrine of the end of time believing in the emergence or re – emergence of a great savior of mankind from the shackles of tyrants and oppressors in the world, most notably Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism.
This savior is the hope of the hopeless, icon of freedom, social justice and societal reform. It is believed that with his advent, the world will completely change in prosperity to be a better place to live. However, it is very imperative to elucidate the fact that these religious circles however differ in general perception and doctrinal belief.
The doctrine of Imam al – Mahdi is very popular in Islam. The Ummah believed him as a pious and miraculous servant of Allah from the family of the noble messenger Muhammad (s) who will emerge and fight the world tyrants with his invincible forces at the end of time. However there are many unauthentic theories and versions in circulation about the actual personality and the role of Imam al – Mahdi may Allah hasten his re – appearance.
At this juncture, I will start by revealing the set of the widely – recognized and accepted narrations of Sunni and Shi’a regarding the promised Imam.
NARRATIONS OF THE TWO SCHOOLS
According to Sunan Abu Da’ud, volume ll, page 422, the prophet (s) said “if there remained but a single day of the (end of) Time, Allah would prolong that day till He sends a man of my progeny, whose name is like mine, and whose father’s name is my father’s, who will fill the earth with justice and equity as it had been filled with oppression and tyranny”
Ibn Majah in volume ll hadiths 4082 and 4087; the prophet said “we are the Ahlul – bait for whom Allah has chosen the hereafter to this world. My Ahlul – bait will face after me difficulties, hardships and persecution in the lands, until a people will come from the East (mashriq) bearers of black banners. They will demand the right but it will be denied. So, they will fight and emerge victorious. They will be given what they demanded, but will not accept it till they give it (the right to rule) to a man from my Ahlul – bait, who would fill it (earth) with justice as it was filled with oppression”
In sahih al – Tirmidhi, volume 9 pages 74 – 75; the prophet said “a man of my Ahlul – bait whose name is like mine, will verily rule (the world). And if there remained but a single day of the (end of) Time, Allah would prolong that day till he assumes the rule”
Al – Hafiz has mentioned in Fathul Bari, volume 5 page 362; there are many authentic (mutawatir) traditions confirming that Al – Mahdi is of this Ummah, and that Jesus the son of Mary will reappear and perform his prayers behind him.
Ibn Hajar al – Haythami said in Sawa’iqul Muhriqa volume 2 page 211; the ahadith containing references to the reappearance of Al – Mahdi are so many and mutawatir (authentic)”
In his Muqaddimah, page 367, Ibn Khaldun said ”know that what is widely known among Ahlul – Islam (Ulama and people) throughout course of time, is that at the end of the Time a man of Ahlul – bait should appear, who would support the Deen, and establish justice. He is called al Mahdi”
Al – Bukhari, volume 4 page 143, baab nuzul Isa Bn Maryam, “Ibn Bukair told us saying we were told by al – Layth, from Ibn Shahab from Nafi maula of Abu Qatadah al – Ansari, that Abu Hurairah said; the messenger of Allah (peace and benediction of Allah be upon him) said “what would be your condition when the son of Mary (Jesus) is raised down among you, and your leader (Imam) be of you?”
THE SHIITE VIEW
According to Tafseerul Qummi; 1, 158; the apostle of Allah said; Good news for you. He repeated it three times. How can the community of which I am the first perish? There are twelve persons after me who are felicitous and possess understanding and Christ Jesus the son of Mary is at the end of them. But between them, the children of confusion will perish. They are not from Me and I am not from them”
Hudhaifah Ibn Ubayd al – Ghifari said “we sat in the shadow of a wall in al – Madinah and the apostle of Allah was in the room. Then he appeared over us and said what are you doing? We said we are talking. He said about what? We said about the resurrection Day (al – sa’ah). He said you will not see the resurrection day until you see ten signs before it; sunrise from the west, al – Dajjal and the beast of the earth, three lunar eclipses on earth, one in the east, one in the west and one in the Arabian peninsula and the emergence of Jesus the son of Mary”
Hudhayfa has reported that Ka’b said “Al – Mahdi will turn his face to Jesus when he descends as if water were dropping from his hair, and will say to him, go ahead and say the prayer ‘Jesus will say, the prayer has been set up only for you. So Jesus will pray behind a man who is among my sons” Sirat al – Mustaqim, 2; 257
According to Qummi, the verse “It is He who has sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of Truth, that He may uplift it above all religions, though the unbelievers averse” was revealed about the Qa’im from the house of Muhammad (as). He is the Imam that Allah will uplift and manifest him over all religions and he will fill the earth with equity and justice, as it is replete with oppression and inequity”
WHEN WILL THE IMAM EMERGE?
As clearly indicated, the Ummah generally believes in this messiah. However, they differ regarding his personality and the way he will emerge and operate. The Sunni believes that Muhammad al – Mahdi will be born in Medina brought up with moral values and finally fights triumphantly in defense of Islam.
However, the Shi’ah believes that Imam Muhammad al – Mahdi may Allah hasten his re – appearance was already born as indicated above. And he was born under a very serious persecution against the Ahlul – bait and their followers during the Abbasid regime to the eleventh Imam of the Ahlul – bait, Imam Hasan Al – Askary and mother Sayyidah Narjis in Samarra, Iraq.
As we have been saying the prophet (s) should be succeeded by twelve Khulafa from Quraish, he was the last in the chain. Naturally, the question is on the prolonged life of the Imam in what is generally referred as Ghaibah or occultation which is divided into minor and major respectively.
We all know and believe that Allah is able to do all things. So nothing is above His capacity. We know that prophet Nuh peace be upon him has spent good 950 years as missionary period only. Prophet Isa peace be upon him was neither killed nor crucified but he was raised to heaven by Allah’s will. Prophets Ilyas and Khidr are believed to be alive by Allah’s will. And not only prophets, some servants of Allah were blessed with prolonged life. Some lived hundreds of years and the like.
Many people in history have falsely claimed Mahdiship in the Sunni world and have died without witnessing any positive change in this mortal world. However, on the shi’ah side they believe in the Imam’s re – emergence only as his genealogy and biography are known in detail.
The occultation experienced by the Imam was in two stages – the minor – from 255 to 260 and then to 329 years after hijra. During this period, the Imam remained in contact with four selected representatives namely:
Usman Bn Sa’id al – Amry al – AsadyMuhammad bn Uthman al – AmryAbul – Qasim, Husain Bn Ruh al – Nawbakhty, andAbul Hasan Ali Bn Muhammad al – Samury
However, after the death of the fourth representative in 329 after hijra, the Imam entered the major which extends to date!
CAN ANYONE SAY WHEN THE IMAM WILL EMERGE!
No one can specify when the Imam will re – emerge but there are clear signs that signal his advent. The signs most importantly, include:
Widespread of oppression and tyrannyCriminal bloodshed across the worldMoral decadence and degradation of modestyLandslide at Bayda between Mecca and MedinaYamani’s rise, a prominent lieutenant and other helpers of the ImamOutcry from the heavenSlaying of Nafs ZakiyyahGreat advancement in science and technologyAppearance of liars in the name of saviors
“… verily, never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves with their own souls …” Qur’an: 13: 11
Waiting for the re – appearance of the Imam is a very important and rewarding form of worship. However for one to earn the reward he or she must follow the footstep of the Imam by enjoining what is right and forbidding what is evil at all cost!
For the Imam and this kind of people Allah says “And we inscribed in the Psalms following the reminder that My honorable servants shall inherit the earth” Al – Anbiya: 105
Sheikh al – Qummi said “all divine books are reminders and the honorable servants refers to Qa’im and his companions” So we pray that Allah shall have mercy on us as we continue to pray that He shall make us among his helpers and vanguards for the establishment of Allah’s authority on earth.
— Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah!