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Brief Intro to Imam Al-Mahdi

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Name: Muhammad Ibn al-Hassan al-Askari

Mother: Lady Narjis

Birth: Imam Mahdi, was born on a Friday, in the middle of the month of Sha’ban in the year 255 AH (869 AD) in the city of Samarra, Iraq.

Titles: Baqiyatullah (The Remnant of Allah), al-Hujjah (The Proof), al-Khalaf al-Salih (The Righteous Successor), al-Sharid (The Exile), al-Ghareem (The Debtor), al-Qa’im (The Riser), al-Mahdi (The Guided One), al-Muntazar (The Awaited One), al-Ma’a al-Mu’ayn (The Refreshing Water).

Kunya (honorific): Abu al-Qasim.

His Noble Age: As of now, in the year 1444 AH, Imam Mahdi’s noble age is 1189 years. He is still alive and, by Allah’s will, will one day reappear to fill the earth with justice and fairness.

Prelude:

“Indeed, We wrote in the Psalms, after the Remembrance, that the earth will be inherited by My righteous servants.”[1]

The belief in the existence of a divine and universal reformer is present in many sects and religions, not just limited to the Shia. We are distinguished from others in that this idea is no longer a concept we are waiting to be born, nor a prophecy we anticipate to be fulfilled, but rather an existing reality we await to be activated. A specific individual lives among us, in flesh and blood, sees us and lives with our hopes and fears, sharing our sorrows and joys. He witnesses all that unfolds on the face of the earth, from the torment of the tormented, the misery of the wretched, to the oppression of the oppressors. This awaited leader, the Imam, is destined not to reveal himself or disclose his life to others, even though he lives among them, waiting for the promised moment.

Imam Mahdi in Islamic Belief:

The belief that this nation has a Mahdi is not a matter of dispute among Muslims of different sects. They trace this issue back to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him and his family) hadiths, which have been proven to have been narrated authentically from him. Many scholars believe that these hadiths are mutawatir (conveyed by numerous narrators). Sunni scholars have documented hadiths about Imam Mahdi, may Allah hasten his appearance, throughout various eras.

Ibn Majah narrated from Alqamah, who narrated from Abdullah: “While we were with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family), a group of young men from Banu Hashim approached. When the Prophet saw them, his eyes filled with tears, and his complexion changed. I said, ‘We see something in your face that we dislike.’ He replied: ‘We, the people of the house, were chosen by Allah for the Hereafter over this world. After me, my family will face trials, dispersion, and persecution until a group from the East comes with black flags, seeking goodness but not receiving it. They will fight and be victorious, and they will be given what they asked for, but they will not accept it until they hand it over to a man from my household. He will fill the earth with justice and fairness, just as it was filled with oppression and injustice. Whoever among you witnesses this should join them, even if crawling on snow.’[2]

It is also narrated from Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) said, “The Mahdi is from my progeny, from the descendants of Fatima.”[3]

Al-Hamuyini narrated from Saeed bin Jubair, who narrated from Ibn Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family) said: “Ali bin Abi Talib is the Imam of my nation and my successor over it after me. From his offspring is the Awaited Riser who will fill the earth with justice and fairness, just as it was filled with oppression and injustice. Those who hold firmly to his cause during his occultation are more valuable than red sulfur.”

Jabir bin Abdullah Al-Ansari then stood up and said, “O Messenger of Allah, will there be an occultation for the Riser from your offspring?” The Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) replied: “Yes, by my Lord, Allah will purify the believers through it and destroy the disbelievers. O Jabir, this matter is one of Allah’s affairs and a secret from His secrets; its knowledge is hidden from His servants. So beware of doubting it, for doubting Allah’s affairs is disbelief.”[4]

Imam Mahdi during the Minor Occultation:

As we know, Imam Mahdi, may Allah hasten his appearance, has both Minor and Major Occultations. The Minor Occultation refers to the period that began with the martyrdom of Imam al-Askari (peace be upon him) and the assumption of imamate duties by Imam Mahdi. During this time, he maintained contact with his followers through four ambassadors:

First: Uthman bin Sa’id, whose ambassadorship lasted around five years.

Second: Muhammad bin Uthman, who served for about 40 years and passed away in the year 305 AH.

Third: Hussain bin Ruh, who served for 21 years.

Fourth: Ali bin Muhammad Al-Samari, who held the position for three years and passed away in the year 329 AH.

Imam Mahdi during the Major Occultation:

The death of Ali bin Muhammad Al-Samari marked the beginning of the Major Occultation era. The decree issued by the Imam (peace be upon him) to Ali bin Muhammad six days before his death announced the end of the Minor Occultation. The blessed decree states: “In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. O Ali bin Muhammad Al-Samari, may Allah magnify the reward of your brethren in you, for you will die in six days. Settle your affairs and do not appoint anyone to take your place after your death. The complete occultation has now taken place, and there will be no reappearance except by Allah’s permission, after a long period of time, when hearts have hardened, and the earth is filled with injustice. Some of my followers will claim to have witnessed me before the emergence of the Sufyani and the Call (of the archangel Gabriel), but they are liars and fabricators. There is no power or strength except with Allah, the Highest, the Most Great.”[5]

From this text, several points become clear:

1-The end of the special deputyship (ambassadorship).

2-There are specific signs that precede the return of Imam Mahdi, may Allah hasten his arrival.

Signs of Imam Mahdi’s Reappearance:

The eminent scholar and hadith narrator Sheikh Abbas Al-Qummi mentioned some signs of the reappearance in his book, Muntaha al-Amal, Vol. 2, p. 821, summarizing what was written by the jurist and hadith narrator, Sayyid Ismail Al-Nouri, may Allah have mercy on them.

We will share some of these signs: The signs of reappearance are divided into two categories: inevitable signs and non-inevitable signs.

Inevitable Signs:

1-The Cry: “O people of creatures, this is Mahdi, the descendant of Muhammad. Attribute him to his father, Al-Hasan, pledge allegiance to him to be guided, and do not oppose his command, lest you go astray.”[7]

2-Emergence of the Sufyani: He will emerge from a dry valley with no water or vegetation, located between Mecca and Greater Syria. He is an ugly-faced man with a pockmarked face, a large brow, blue eyes, and his name is Uthman bin Anbasah, a descendant of Yazid bin Muawiya. The evil one will rule over five major cities: Damascus, Homs, Palestine, Jordan, and Qinnasrin.

3-The Earth’s Swallowing: The earth will swallow the Sufyani’s army in the desert.

4-The Pure Soul: The killing of the Pure Soul, a descendant of Muhammad (peace be upon him), who will be killed between the corner (of the Kaaba) and the station (of Abraham).

5-Sayyid Al-Hasani: The emergence of Sayyid Al-Hasani, a handsome young man who appears from the region of Daylam and Qazvin, calling out loudly, “Help the descendants of Muhammad, for they are seeking your help.” It is apparent that this Sayyid is a descendant of Imam Hasan Al-Mujtaba (peace be upon him).

6-The Hand: The appearance of a hand in the sky.

7-Lunar and Solar Eclipses: A solar eclipse occurring in the middle of the month of Ramadan and a lunar eclipse at the end of the month.

8-Rajab: The appearance of signs and indications in the month of Rajab.

Non-inevitable Signs:

1-Demolition of the wall of Kufa Mosque.

2-Flooding of the Euphrates River and its flow through the streets of Kufa.

3-Rebuilding of Kufa after its destruction.

4-Appearance of water in the Sea of Najaf.

5-Flow of a river from the Euphrates to Al-Ghari, i.e., the Holy City of Najaf.

6-Severe drought before the reappearance.

7-Massive killings that do not cease.

8-Adornment of the Qurans, decoration of mosques, and elongation of minarets.

9-An increase in killings and bloodshed in Kufa due to various conflicting banners.

10-Emergence of the black banners from Khorasan.

11-Heavy rainfall in the months of Jumada Al-Thani and Rajab, the likes of which have never been seen before.

12-The world being filled with injustice, disbelief, immorality, and sin.

Conclusion

-The Imamate of Mahdi and belief in it are matters agreed upon by all Islamic schools of thought, even if there is some disagreement on whether he is already born or will be born.

-There are many narrations from the Sunni tradition that declare the Imam to be the son of Fatima, some say the son of Ali, and some say the son of Hasan Al-Askari.

-During his Minor Occultation, Imam Mahdi appointed four ambassadors: Uthman bin Sa’id, Muhammad bin Uthman, Al-Hussein bin Ruh, and Ali bin Muhammad Al-Samari.

-The period of the Major Occultation began with the death of the fourth ambassador in 329 AH.

The signs of reappearance are divided into two categories:

Inevitable: (Antichrist, Sufyani, the swallowing of the earth, the cry).

Non-inevitable: (multiple signs, including the rebuilding of Kufa after its destruction, etc.).


References

  1. Al-Anbiya: 105.
  2. Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 2, p. 1366.
  3. Kanz al-Ummal, Vol. 14, p. 264. Similar to what is narrated by Ibn Majah in Sunan, Vol. 2, p. 1368.
  4. Yanabi’ al-Mawadda, p. 494.
  5. History of Islam, Vol. 4, p. 94.
  6. Al-Ghaybah, al-Tusi, p. 242.
  7. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol. 53, p. 8, Chapter 25.
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