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Imam Mahdi (PBUH)
Imam Mahdi (PBUH) (Arabic: امام مهدی) is the 12th and the last Imam of Shia from the descendant of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and he is prophesied in all Abrahamic books (Turah, Bible, Quran). It is prophesied he will return along with the prophet Jesus (PBUH) to save the world and end all misers, wars, famine … and lead the people into the truth.
Birth in Samarra
Imam Mahdi (PBUH) was born in 869 A.D (15th, Sha’ban, 255 A.H) in Samarra. When his great father, Imam Hassan Askari (PBUH) martyred by Abbasid caliph; he reached the exalted position of the Imamate. As it was mentioned by the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) before, His name (Muhammad) and his agnomen (Abu’l-Qasim) are the same as the Prophet’s. His father, the 11thShia Imam, was Imam Hassan Askari (PBUH), and his mother, the lady Narjis.
For various reasons, the twelfth Imam, Imam Mahdi (PBUH) from the first day of his life, did not appear publicly, and for about seventy years people were in communication with him through the intermediary of his special representatives, in order of succession: Othman Ibn Sa’id, Muhammad Ibn Othman, Hussain Ibn Ruh, and Ali Ibn Muhammad al-Samari. This period of seventy years is known as the minor occultation (Al-Ghaybat Al-Sughra), and at the end of that period the major occultation (Al-Ghaybat Al -Kubra) began. One of the reasons was: he is the last Imam and he should be saved by Allah to return and fill the world with justice to spread the orders of God. On the other hand, enemies of Imams and enemies of God knew him by the prophecies, so they attempted to kill him, but God, made him disappear to save him just like prophet Jesus (PBUH), because their returning is the great promise of God in religions.
So, the occultation of Imam Mahdi (PBUH) is, divided into two parts: the first, the minor occultation (Ghaybat Sughra) which began in 872 and ended in 939, lasting about seventy years; the second, the major occultation which commenced in 939 and will continue as long as God wills it.
During the major occultation till the time of his reappearance, no one has been his special representative, and there will be no one in the future, and the people have the duty to refer to the Quran, Ahl al-Bayt’s Hadith and “Fuqaha” (Jurists), those excelling in knowledge of the shariah (Islamic laws), and the narration of Hadith who are specialized in the matters of the religion.
Believe in the reappearance of the expected Mahdi (PBUH) the universal reformer is not confined to the Shia Muslims. Other Islamic groups and even non-Islamic groups like the Jews and the Christians and some of the great world intellectual figures believe in the appearance of a great spiritual reformer.
In Shia narrations it is prophesied that Imam Mahdi and Prophet Jesus (PBUT) will return together to reform the world. To know more refer to “the secrets of the Bible”, “Imam Mahdi (PBUH) in Other Religions”, “The Promised in Christianity“, “Ahl Al-Bayt promised in Gosple“
There are numerous Hadith (prophetic sayings) cited in Sunni and Shia sources from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his descendants (Ahl Al-Bayt) concerning the appearance of Imam Mahdi (PBUH), such as that he is of the progeny of the Prophet (PBUH) and that his appearance will enable human society to reach true perfection and the full realization of spiritual life. In addition, there are numerous other traditions concerning the fact that Imam Mahdi (PBUH) is the son of the eleventh descendant of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Imam Hassan Askari (PBUH). They agree that after being born and undergoing a long occultation Imam Mahdi (PBUH) will appear again, filling with justice the world that has been corrupted by injustice and iniquity.
As an example, Imam Reza (PBUH) (8th Imam of Shia, from the descendant of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) has said, in the course of a Hadith, “The Imam after me is my son, Muhammad (Imam Muhammad Jawad), and after him his son Ali (Imam Ali Hadi), and after Ali his son, Hassan (Imam Hassan Askari), and after Hassan his son Hujjat Al-Qa’im (the risen reason), who is awaited during his occultation and obeyed during his manifestation. If there remain from the life of the world but a single day, Allah (God) will extend that day until he becomes manifest, and fill the world with justice in the same way that it had been filled with iniquity. But when? As for news of the hour, verily my father told me, having heard it from his father who heard it from his father who heard it from his ancestors who heard it from Imam Ali (PBUH), that it was asked of the Holy Prophet, “Oh Prophet of Allah, when will the “Qa’im” (the Risen) who is from thy family appear?” He said, “His case is unknown like the Resurrection day. He will manifest it at its proper time. It is significant in the heavens and the earth. It cometh not to you save unawares”
(Holy Quran, Surah Al-A’raf, verse 187)
Saqr Ibn Abi Dulaf said, “I heard from Imam Jawad (9th Imam) who said, ′The Imam after me is my son Ali (Imam Ali Hadi); his command is my command; his word is my word; to obey him is to obey me. The Imam after him is his son, Hassan (Imam Hassan Askari). His command is the command of his father; to obey him is to obey his father.′ after these words the Imam remained silent. I said to him, ′Oh son of the Prophet, who will be the Imam after Hassan? ′ the Imam cried hard, then said, ′Verily after Hassan his son is the awaited Imam who is “Al-Qa’im bi’l-haqq” (He who rise for the Truth).′”
Musa Ibn Ja’far Baghdadi said, “I heard from Imam Hassan Askari (PBUH) (11th Imam of Shia) who said, ′I see that after me differences will appear among you concerning the Imam after me. Whoso accepts the Imams after the Prophet of Allah but denies my son (Imam Mahdi), is like the person who accepts all the prophets but denies the prophet hood of Muhammad (PBUH), the Prophet of Allah. And whoso denies “Muhammad” (PBUH) the Prophet of Allah, is like one who has denied all the prophets of Allah, obeying the last of us is like obeying the first and denying the last of us is like denying the first. But beware! Verily for my son there is an occultation during which all people will fall into doubt except those whom Allah protects.”
It is unquestionable that the idea of Imam Mahdi (PBUH) was projected upon several Imams in turn, but it could take definite shape only around the person of the twelfth, with whom the purpose of Imamate will be fulfilled. There is a considerable body of literature about him, both in Persian and in Arabic. The sources of this literature have been assembled by Saffar al-Qummi, reporter-witness of Imam Hassan Askari (PBUH); al-Kulayni and his follower al-Nu’mani, fourth/tenth century; Ibn Babuyah, who owed his information to a contemporary witness, Hassan Ibn Muktib; al-Shaykh al-Mufid; Muhammad Ibn Hassan Tusi. The principal traditions are collected in volume 13 of Al-Majlisi’s Encyclopedias.
In Shia Islam, Imam Mahdi (PBUH) is a “hidden Imam” who has already been born and who will one day return alongside Prophet Jesus (PBUH) to fill the world with justice. The promised Mahdi (PBUH), who is usually mentioned in Shia by his title of “Imam Asr” (the Imam of the “time”) and “Sahib Al-Zaman” (the Lord of the Age).
In a Hadith upon whose authenticity Shia and Sunni agree, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said, “If there were to remain in the life of the world but one day, Allah would prolong that day until He sends in it a man from my community and my household. His name will be the same as my name. He will fill the earth with equity and justice as it was filled with oppression and tyranny.”
The Purpose of the Hidden Imam
God appointed the Imam of the Age to be a guide amongst people; however it is the people who are the obstacle to his appearance, and whenever they are ready for a single, divine world rule, formed on true justice observing rights, truths and realities, putting into practice all the laws of God without any dissimulation or fear, Imam Mahdi (PBUH) will openly declare himself. So, with regard to Allah, the Merciful, there is not the slightest lack of favor or mercy, for the fault lies with the people that the Imam is hidden and the appearance of his rule is delayed. Still, it must be remembered that the benefits of the existence of the Imam are not limited to outward guidance among people, for the pure existence of the Imam has other benefits which are not necessarily evident among people.
The most important benefit of the Imam’s existence is that he is the intermediary for Divine Favor. For, one the basis of the evidence scholars have produced and also according to numerous Hadith which speak about the Imamate, if there were no Imam, the relation between the world and its creator would no longer exist, because all of the favors of God come through the Imam to the rest of humanity. In many Hadith it is said very clearly that the earth will not remain without an Imam (leader).
The Imam is the heart of the world of existence, the leader, the preceptor of mankind, and for this reason his presence or his absence makes no difference. What is more, the spiritual guidance of the Imam towards worthy individuals will always be there, although they may not see him, especially as it is mentioned in Hadith that Imam Mahdi (PBUH) comes and goes in among the people and help them without anyone understanding. Thus the guarding of Islam and the protection of the worthy is well undertaken by the Imam, even during the time of his occultation. In reality the hidden Imam is like the sun behind a cloud from whose light and heat existent things may profit, although the ignorant and the blind may not see it.
Imam Sadiq (PBUH) (6th Imam of Shia) also said in answer to the question: “How can people benefit from a hidden Imam? – Just as they do from the sun when it is behind a cloud.”
The Jewish religion, finished prophet hood with Prophet Moses (PBUH), which was the relationship between God and the world of man, and do not acknowledge the prophet hood of Jesus (PBUH) or Muhammad (PBUH). The Christians, also, stopped with Jesus (PBUH), and the Sunni Muslims stood still with the prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but Shia sect is the only religion which maintains eternally the link of Divine guidance between God and his creation, and continually keeps alive the union of Succession (Imamate). With the seal of prophet hood among the latter, they admit of no further link being maintained between the Creator and creation. Only the Indeed, only among the Shia does this reality between the world of man and the Divinity remain forever.”
Necessity of Existence of Imam Mahdi (PBUH)
The existence of the redeemer is rationally necessary. Muhammad Hussain Tabatabaii, one of the most prominent thinkers of philosophy and contemporary Shia Islam, addresses the issue as follows: “As a result of the law of general guidance which governs all of creation, man is of necessity endowed with the power of receiving revelation through prophecy, which directs him toward the perfection of the human norm and the well-being of the human species. Obviously, if this perfection and happiness were not possible for man, whose life possesses a social aspect, the very fact that he is endowed with his power would be meaningless and futile. But there is no futility in creation.”
In other words, ever since he has inhabited the earth, man has had the wish to lead a social life filled with happiness in its true sense and has striven toward this end. If such a wish were not to have an objective existence it would never have been imprinted upon man’s inner nature, in the same way that if there were not food there would have been no hunger. Or if there were to be no water there would be no thirst and if there were to be no reproduction there would have been no sexual attraction between the sexes.
Therefore, by reason of inner necessity and determination, the future will see a day when human society will be replete with justice and when all will live in peace and tranquility, when human beings will be fully possessed of virtue and perfection. The establishment of such a condition will occur through human hands but with Divine succor. And the leader of such a society, who will be the savior of man, is called in the language of the Hadith, the Mahdi (PBUH).
In the different religions that govern the world such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Islam there are references to a person who will come as the savior of mankind. These religions have usually given happy tidings of his coming, although there are naturally certain differences in detail that can be discerned when these teachings are compared carefully. The Hadith of Prophet Muhammad upon which all Muslims agree, “The Mahdi is of my progeny,” refers to this same truth.
Is the long lifetime of Mahdi and Jesus (PBUT) possible?
The opponents of Shia Islam protest that according to the beliefs of this school the Hidden Imam should by now be nearly twelve centuries old, whereas this is impossible for any human being. In answer it must be said that the protest is based only on the unlikelihood of such an occurrence, not its impossibility. Of course such a long lifetime or a life of a longer period is unlikely. But those who study the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad and the Imams will see that they refer to this life as one possessing miraculous qualities.
Miracles are certainly not impossible nor can they be negated through scientific arguments. It can never be proved that the causes and agents that are functioning in the world are solely those that we see and know and that other causes which we do not know or whose effects and actions we have not seen nor understood do not exist. It is in this way possible that in one or several members of mankind there can be operating certain causes and agents which bestow upon them a very long life of a thousand or several thousand years. Medicine has not even lost hope of discovering a way to achieve very long life spans. In any case such protests from “peoples of the Book” such as Jews, Christians and Muslims are most strange for they accept the miracles of the prophets of God according to their own sacred scriptures.
The opponents of Shia Islam also protest that, although Shia Islam considers the Imam necessary in order to expound the injunctions and verities of religion and to guide the people, the occultation of the Imam is the negation of this very purpose, for an Imam in occultation who cannot be reached by mankind cannot be in any way beneficial or effective.
The opponents say that if God wills to bring forth an Imam to reform mankind He is able to create him at the necessary moment and does not need to create him thousands of years earlier. In answer it must be said that such people have not really understood the meaning of the Imam. The duty of the Imam is not only the formal explanation of the religious sciences and exoteric guidance of the people. In the same way that he has the duty of guiding men outwardly, the Imam also bears the function of Succession of the Prophet and the esoteric guidance of men. It is he who directs man’s spiritual life and orients the inner aspect of human action toward God.
Clearly, his physical presence or absence has no effect in this matter. The Imam watches over men inwardly and is in communion with the soul and spirit of men even if he be hidden from their physical eyes. His existence is always necessary even if the time has not yet arrived for his outward appearance and the universal reconstruction that he is to bring about.
The signs of returning
A general and very important sign is that he will come at a time when there is great confutation, intense disputes and violent deaths. When people are afflicted by disturbance and experiencing great fear. Calamities will fall upon the people, so much so that a man shall not find a shelter to shelter himself from oppression. There will be battles and seductions before the appearance. Every time a seduction has come to end, another will start, spread and intensify. The people will be troubled to such an extent that they will long for death. It is then that Imam Mahdi and prophet Jesus (PBUT) will be sent.
However,Through some narrations by the prophet Muhammad and 11 Imams (PBUT), there are 5 signs which show the proximity of reappearance day:
- Appearance of Sufyani
According to some narrations Sufyani, one of the descendants of Abu Sufyan, (the enemy of the Muslims in the life of the prophet Muhammad) will arise before Imam Mahdi’s reappearance. He has been depicted as an outwardly devout man that will take care to remember God at all times. But in reality he will be the wicked man in the world. He will upraise during the Lunar month,Rajab. After he realizes that Imam Mahdi has reappeared, he will send away an army to fight him. Some books say that the army of Sufyani before getting to the army of Imam Mahdi will sink into the earth in the Beyda, the area between Mecca and Medina. The appearance of Sufyani is mentioned in both Shia and Sunni narrations.
- Appearance of Yamani
In some narrations, the appearance of Yamani is mentioned as one of the certain signs. The fifth Shia Imam, Imam Baqir (PBUH) described Yamani in detail in a hadith:”… among these individuals (Sufyani,Yamani and Khorasani) the Yamani is the closest to guidance, for he calls the people to join the Imam Mahdi. When he rises there is no use of weapons. When he rises join him immediately, for his flag is the flag of guidance and prosperity and no Muslim should oppose it. The Yamani calls to the right path.” Some sources mention that Yamani and Khurasani will be allied against Sufyani.
- The loud cry in the sky
The third certain sign that is mentioned in the above narration is the loud cry in the sky. According to tradition two cries will heard. In the first of them Gabriel will call the name of Imam Mahdi (PBUH) and his father (Imam Hassan Askari) and say that truth is with Ali (Imam Ali) and his followers. All people will hear Gabriel’s cry in their own language. In a tradition of Imam Sadiq (PBUH) that is narrated by Zurarah ibn A’yan, it is said that after this cry Satan will call certainly, so and so and their followers are victorious ones and his meaning is a man from Banu Umayya. But the first cry is the truth.
- The murder of Nafse Zakeyyah
A pure soul or Nafse Zakeyyah is one of the descendants of Imam Hussain (PBUH). He will be murdered and is without any sin or crime. According to many narrations, he is the envoy of Imam Mahdi (PBUH) to Mecca before his reappearance. When he will arrive to Mecca and say his message, the people of Mecca slay him around the Kaaba.
- Earth swallowing (Sufyani’s Army) in land of Bayda
The sinking of Sufyani’s army into the earth is a certain sign of reappearance of Imam Mahdi (PBUH). In addition to above-mentioned hadith of Imam Sadiq (PBUH), in a hadith Imam Ali (PBUH) mentions that Sufyani’s army will sink on the earth by the order of God.
The world after reappearance
After Imam Mahdi (PBUH) rises and establishes the rule of justice, the earth will yield to him her treasures of mineral deposits and crops. The shares that rightfully belong to the destitute and poor will be exacted from the rich and the oppressors to be justly distributed, as the result of which no poor person will remain.
Imam Sadiq (PBUH) says: “The world will be revitalized by the implementation of justice, the sky will send down abundant rain, trees will reveal their fruit, and the earth will deliver her plants, embellishing herself for her inhabitants.”
The character trait of the universal rule of Imam Mahdi will be the worldwide maintenance of peace, security, justice, and the annihilation of the foundations of corruption, decadence, oppression, and crime. This has been the main purpose of all the prophets, but with the difference that the success of the latter and their successors following them was not as decisive. Nevertheless, establishing worldwide peace and security has always constituted one of their promises. And so the unpolluted souls of mankind at large, ever since the beginning of human history, have been waiting for the time when those promises would be realized. Now since God, His messengers, and their infallible successors do not breach their promises, they would not raise the hopes of people without a good reason. This means that this promise will certainly be realized and that a just government will be established, consisting of the aforementioned characteristics.
This promise is so vital and real that its realization can be considered the rationale behind the creation of humankind, a promise that once realized will lead to the unity of the whole of humankind under the banner of worshiping God (the one God) and, by God’s Mercy, the uprooting of disbelief, polytheism, and hypocrisy from amongst them. (11:118&123)
The learned Shia research scholars and historians in their books have narrated from Hassan Ibn Mathleh Jamakarani (a righteous man of upright conduct and noble character, and a lover of the Ahl al-Bayt, the holy progeny of the Prophet Muhammad) that on Tuesday night, the 17th day of the blessed and holy month of Ramadan of 393 A.H. (1003 A.D) he woke up by a voice who called him to obey Imam Mahdi’s command. When he opened the door he saw a group of pious personalities and offered them salutations. They reciprocated his salutations and spoke to him kindly and with appreciation. Then they directed him to a place – the present location of the Holy Jamkaran Mosque (in the outskirts of Qum, Iran). There he saw Imam Mahdi (PBUH) and some of prophets and virtues around him.
Then the Imam commend him to tell the people about a mosque which should be built in a farm by the God’s will. He accepted but he said: ‘Oh my Master and Lord! I must have some unique convincing signs for delivering your message, because otherwise people will not believe my words, and it will be quite difficult to convince them.’
The Imam (PBUH) replied:
‘We will mark some special signs showing the boundaries of the Holy Mosque, which will prove the truthfulness of your statement. Go and convey my message to the people.’
Then Imam addressed him the person who pay for this building.
Tomorrow he delivered the message, then he and the others went to the place that Imam Mahdi (PBUH) had told. They saw the mark so they obeyed the command of their Imam (leader). This mosque is known as Jamkaran Mosque and it is one of the famous Mosques. Every day many pilgrims gather and pray there. Many people wishes also have ever fulfilled in this mosque.