The topic of Imam Mahdi has always intrigued me, possibly the case with many others as well, wondering if we would be fortunate enough to see that day when the true enemy—the western powers and their allies who spilt the blood of countless innocent men, women, and children—will be finally defeated. In the current political climate, this question is being asked more frequently. Some—taking advantage of the desperation the Ummah finds itself in—have made fanciful claims of being the Awaited Mahdi; by those merely attempting to give hope to the downtrodden and charlatans alike. Whatever the case, it is evident that it has become a matter of necessity to acquaint oneself with the authentic traditions concerning the Awaited Mahdi, so that one is not misled by imaginative claims that may reach his ear.
1. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The Mahdi is from my household, Allah will rectify him in one night.”
2. ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “When you see the black flags emerging from the land of Khurasan, go and seek them for among them is Allah’s successor, the Mahdi.”
3. Abu Sa’id radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Towards the end of my nation shall emerge the Mahdi. Allah will bless him with rain so that the earth will bring forth its fruits; he will divide money justly and cattle will increase. He shall live around seven or eight years.”
4. Abu Sa’id radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The Mahdi is of my lineage. He has a high forehead and a distinctively thin and slightly curved nose. He will fill the earth with fairness and justice as it was filled with tyranny and oppression, and he will rule for seven years.”
5. Abu Sa’id radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “In my nation shall be a Mahdi. No matter how long he lives he shall spend seven, eight or nine years filling the earth with justice and equity. The earth will bring forth its plants and the sky will send down its rain.” In some narrations we read an addition, “At that time, my nation will live a life unlike anything before it.”
6. Jabir radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “‘Isa ibn Maryam ‘alayh al Salam will descend so their leader, Mahdi, will say, ‘Come lead us in prayer!’ However, ‘Isa ‘alayh al Salam will reply, ‘No, this nation will be led (in prayer) by one of their own. This is how Allah honours them.’”
It worthy of note that Nabi ‘Isa ‘alayh al Salam declines to lead the prayer citing clearly the reason thereto; namely that this Ummah will be led in prayer by one of their own, an honour bestowed upon this Ummah by Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, and not because, “Imamah is superior to Nubuwwah,” as the Shia claim.
7. Thawban radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Near this treasure of yours, three will engage one another in combat. Each of them the son of a successor (leader). But it will not reach any of them. Then the black flags will come from the East, and they will kill you in a way unlike any nation before.” And he salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam mentioned something I could not memorise, then said, “If you ever hear of him then seek him, even if you have to crawl on snow, for verily he is Allah’s successor, the Mahdi.”
8. Umm Salamah radiya Llahu ‘anha narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The Mahdi is from my progeny; from Fatimah’s children.”
9. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “If only a single day remains of time (on this earth), Allah will send a man from my household who will fill it with justice as it was filled with oppression.”
10. ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The world will not come to an end until a man from my progeny whose name matches mine and his father’s name matches my father’s name rules over you (i.e. Arabs).”
This narration indicates that his name and his father’s name will be identical to the Prophet and the Prophet’s father, namely Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah.
11. Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “How will you (i.e. Arabs) be if ‘Isa ibn Maryam ‘alayh al Salam descends while your leader is one of you?”
12. Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said that if only one night remains of this world then a man from his household will assume authority.
13. Abu Hurairah radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “A man will receive a pledge of allegiance between the corner of the black-stone and the station of Ibrahim ‘alayh al Salam. None shall degrade the sanctity of the House (i.e. Ka’bah) except its own people; when they do so then doom shall befall the Arabs. The Abyssinians (i.e. Africans) will then come and destroy it permanently, extract its treasure, and it shall never be rebuilt.”
14. Abu Sa’id radiya Llahu ‘anhu narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The hour shall not come to pass until the earth is filled with oppression and tyranny, then a man from my progeny shall rise and fill it with justice and equity.”
15. Abu Sa’id narrates:
The Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “In the final era a Khalifah will arise who will distribute wealth generously without counting.”
1. Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah, the son of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, narrates:
We were with ‘Ali when a man asked him about the Mahdi. So, ‘Ali replied while signalling with seven fingers, “This is way far! That one will come out at the End of Time. (At that time) if a man said, ‘Allah! Allah!’ he will be killed. Then, Allah the Most High will gather together a group around him, just as the separate pieces of cloud are joined together. Allah will unite their hearts. They do not need anyone nor will they rejoice if one joins them. Their number matches that of the people at Badr. The past Generations will not surpass them and the latter generations will not reach up to them. Their number will also be that of the companions of Talut who crossed the river with him.”
Ibn al Hanafiyyah asked Abu al Tufayl (the narrator), “Do you seek him?”
He replied, “Yes.”
Ibn al Hanafiyyah said, “He emerges from between these two mountains (meaning Makkah).”
Abu al Tufayl replied, “I shall not leave it (Makkah) till I die.”
The utter degeneration and despair that will be prevalent before the Mahdi emerges is evident from this narration. Such will be the plight of the Muslims that merely taking the name of Allah could result in one’s execution. The degeneration of the Ummah close to the last hour has nothing to do with one having an optimistic or pessimistic view on where the Ummah is heading, rather it is the prophetic description of the state of affairs which will herald or rather necessitate the coming of the Mahdi. Such will be the plight in this final hour that even the most diligent of religious revivers—of which the Ahlus Sunnah has seen a multitude of through the centuries—will not only be incapable of instituting reform but will lose his life on the mere attempt to do so.
2. Sa’id bin Jubayr narrates:
Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Three men come from our household: The blood shedder (al Saffah), the triumphant (al Mansur) and the guided (al Mahdi).”
3. Mujahid narrates:
A man from the Prophet’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam Companions said, “The Mahdi shall not emerge before the pure soul (Nafs al Zakiyyah) is killed. When the pure soul is killed, they shall incur the wrath of the heavens and earth. The Mahdi shall emerge and they (believers) will celebrate around him just like a bride’s family celebrates on her wedding night; he will fill the earth with justice and equity; earth will bring forth its plants; the sky will send down its rain and my nation will be blessed during his reign like never before.”
The word Nafs al Zakiyyah used here does not refer to Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Hassan ibn Hassan ibn ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib—the great great grandson of Sayyidina Hassan radiya Llahu ‘anhu—who was titled Dhu Nafs al Zakiyyah. Rather the literal meaning is implied, i.e. pure soul. It is worth mentioning, however, that many of the Shia believed Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah Dhu Nafs al Zakiyyah to be the Awaited Mahdi, and rallied behind him in his rebellion against the Abbasid Khalifah.
4. Salim ibn Abi al Ja’d narrates:
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr said, “O people of Kufah, you will be the happiest with regards to the Mahdi.”
Most likely because the Mahdi will be from the Banu Hashim, and since Kufah was politically aligned with Hashimis, ‘Abdullah assumed they would be the happiest when Imam Mahdi appears.
5. Hisham narrates:
Muhammad ibn Sirin said, “The Mahdi is from this nation and he is the one to lead ‘Isa ibn Maryam (i.e. in prayer).”
The reason why Nabi ‘Isa ‘alayh al Salam will not lead the salah has been mentioned previously.
6. Ibn Tawus narrates:
‘Ali ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas said, “The Mahdi shall not emerge until the sun rises with a sign.”
7. Ibrahim narrates:
I asked Tawus, “Is ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz the Mahdi?”
He responded, “‘Umar was guided but he is not that Mahdi (from the end of times). When he (Mahdi) comes, the good-doer will be rewarded and the evil-doer will be forgiven. He spends the money, is strict on the governors and merciful towards the poor.”
8. Qatadah narrates:
I asked Sa’id ibn al Musayyib, “Is the Mahdi true?”
He said: “He is true.”
I asked, “From whom?”
He said, “Quraysh.”
I said, “From which?”
He said, “From Hashim’s children.”
I said, “Which ones?”
He said, “Children of ‘Abdul Muttalib.”
I asked further and he said, “From Fatimah’s progeny.”
9. Ibn Shawdhab narrates:
Matir said, “We heard that the Mahdi will accomplish things greater than even ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz.”
We asked, “And what is that?”
He replied, “A person will come and ask him (for something) to which he will say, ‘Enter the treasury and take what you wish.’ After doing so, as he exits, he sees all people are full and satisfied so he feels regret and proceeds to return the money but is told, “We give and never take.”
10. ‘Imran narrates:
Al Samit (or Shamit) said, “His name is that of a prophet; he will be fifty one or fifty two; he rules for seven or eight years.”
11. Ibn Zurayr narrates:
‘Ali said, “There will be tribulations in which people will become as (few as) the gold in the minerals; so do not verbally abuse the people of al Sham except their oppressors for among them are the Abdal (pious servants of Allah). Allah will send down on them torment from the sky which will divide and weaken them to the extent that foxes could (easily) defeat them. At that point, Allah will send forth a man from the Messenger’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam progeny alongside twelve thousand supporters at least or fifteen thousand at most. Their slogan will be ‘Death, death,’ and they shall be composed of three divisions. Facing them, will be seven divisions, each will be led by one who is desirous of authority yet they shall be defeated by the Hashimi and Allah will return for them peace and blessing until the appearance of the Dajjal.”
12. Abu Ma’bad narrates:
Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Days and nights shall not pass until a young man from our household attains authority; he will not be overcome by tribulations.”
We asked, “O ‘Abbas, your elders were unable to achieve this (high status) yet your youngsters attain it?”
He said, “It is Allah’s affair and decision. Just as He began it with us He shall end it with us.”
This narration indicates that the Mahdi will be a young man from the Ahlul Bayt, and not some person believed to have been given unnaturally long life, exceeding a thousand years; wherein he does nothing but watch the Ummah from afar leaving ‘lesser’ men to fulfil the needs of the Ummah.
Imam Mahdi will be from the Ahlul Bayt, in particular the progeny of Sayyidah Fatimah. His name will be Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah. He will have a high forehead and a distinctively thin and slightly curved nose. Allah will prepare and rectify him in one night. The time of his emergence will be time of despair such that a person will be killed if he even mentions the name of Allah. He will fill the earth with justice as it was filled with oppression. When three leaders fight for a treasure his army will appear from the east, he shall come from the direction of Khurasan with black flags. Many Arabs will be killed in these wars unlike ever before. He shall appear at the end of times. He will be blessed with rain so the earth will bear fruits and cattle will increase. He shall distribute money generously and fairly. The number of his supporters at the beginning will be around 306 like in Badr. His supporters will be from the most pious of people. He shall first emerge in the city of Makkah after a pure soul is killed. People will celebrate around him when he emerges. He shall reward the righteous and forgive the wrong-doers. He will be strict on his governors. He will be fifty one or fifty two at the time he reaches authority. He shall lead the nation for seven years until ‘Isa ‘alayh al Salam descends. ‘Isa ‘alayh al Salam refuses to lead the nation in prayer to honour him.
The stance of the Ahlus Sunnah in this regard is that the Mahdi will be a pious just ruler of the Muslims, who will be born when Allah decrees. He will then live, learn, and grow as all other men do—subject and bound to the laws of nature which Allah has put in place—until Allah decrees that he take charge of the Ummah. He will then rule with justice and follow the practices of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, through which Allah will open the doors of abundance and bliss for the Ummah.
However, a noble station and rank such as this, one would be correct in surmising that a number of alternate theories or claims must have been contrived over the centuries to lay exclusive claim to this awaited reformer.
It is near impossible to list all the Mahdi theories and the claimants thereof in this concise treatise, however we will endeavour to mention the most prominent claims which have been made.
Many of the earlier Mahdi theories died out and cease to exist in the present times, however, some have managed to find a strong footing in the minds of a few and continue to be proliferated in the present era.
Sayyid ‘Ali Muhammad Shirazi (d. July 9, 1850) was the founder of Babiyyah faith, who is also a central figure to the Baha’i faith. The Bab (‘Ali Muhammad Shirazi) claimed to be the promised Mahdi or al Qa’m of the Ithna Ashariyyah in 1844. Although himself a believer of the Ithna Ashariyyah Shia line of Imams, he faced opposition from the Iranian government, which eventually executed him and thousands of his followers, who were known as Babis.
The Bab stated in numerous letters and Books that a messianic figure would soon come, who would bring a greater message than his own. This messianic role was claimed by Hussain ‘Ali Baha’ Allah, who succeeded him and claimed in 1863 to be the fulfilment of the Bab’s prophecy.
Thus a movement which began believing in a false Mahdi, later transformed into a heretical religion with its own prophet, code of law, and beliefs.
Qadiyani movement began in 1900 CE as a plot by the British colonialists in the Indian subcontinent, with the aim of diverting Muslims away from their religion and from the obligation of jihad in particular, so that they would not oppose colonialism in the name of Islam.
The founder of this movement was Mirza Ghulam Ahmed al Qadiyani, who was born in the village of Qadiyan in Punjab India in 1839 CE. Ghulam Ahmed was a loyal and obedient subject to the colonialists, and after claiming to be the Mahdi and later a prophet, he endeavoured to avert those who had gathered around him from opposing the English colonialists.
Ghulam Ahmed began his activities as an Islamic preacher which soon brought him a number of loyal supporters. He then claimed to be a mujaddid (reviver) inspired by Allah. It would not be long before his claim changed to being the Awaited Mahdi and thereafter the Promised Messiah, until his claim became one of prophethood, even higher than that of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The Qadiyani believe that Prophethood did not end with Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, but that it is ongoing, and that Allah sends a messenger when there is a need, and that Ghulam Ahmed is the best of all the Prophets. In their view every Muslim is a Kafir unless he becomes a Qadiyani, and everyone who married a non-Qadiyani is also a kafir.
On 7 September 1974, this sect was declared Kafir by the elected parliament of Pakistan, a verdict which unanimously upheld by all Muslims countries and denominations until present.
The Twelver Shia have gained much prominence in recent times, since the Iranian revolution of 1979 and more so on account of the current sectarian conflict plaguing the Middle east. The number of Shia preachers and evangelists, in the western and English speaking world, have increased exponentially over the past decade, making a concerted effort to permeate Sunni society. Thus we will elaborate in somewhat greater detail concerning this sect’s beliefs about the Mahdi and highlight the incongruity within their paradigm.
The Twelver Shia believe in a line of twelve divinely appointed Imams, who hold a position greater than all the Prophets but equal to the Last Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The last of these Twelve Imams according to them is Imam Mahdi, who they believe is the alleged son of the eleventh Imam, Hassan al ‘Askari, who has been in occultation since the year 260 A.H. Thus his age, this Sha’ban, according to them is 1184 years old.
According to Usul al Kafi , Hassan al ‘Askari was born in Ramadan 232 A.H, and passed away in Rabi’ al Awwal 260 A.H, at the age of twenty-eight years. His real brother, Jafar ibn ‘Ali, and the other members of his family have stated categorically that Hassan al ‘Askari had died issueless. It had, also, been confirmed by the government of the day after proper enquiry. His effects, thus, were distributed among his brother, Jafar, and other heirs entitled to it according to Shari’ Law. This is stated in Usul al Kafi itself on page 206.
According to the Twelver Shia, after the third Imam, i.e. Imam Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhu, only the son of an Imam could be an Imam. This caused much confusion amongst those Shia who affiliated to this particular line. Imam Hassan al ‘Askari died without a child. Who, then was to be appointed as the Twelfth and the last Imam? To get over the predicament, it was claimed and publicised that four or five years before the death of Imam Hassan al ‘Askari, a son was born to him from the womb of a slave girl and he was kept concealed so that nobody could see him. This was not the first time a claim of this sort—a hidden son who is the Mahdi in occultation—was made but many claims of this nature were made by the Shia throughout history (see list above).
The story goes that ten days before the death of Imam Hassan al ‘Askari, that child of four or five years disappeared and took along with him all the things which had been passed down from their first Imam—Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu—to the eleventh Imam Hassan al ‘Askari. For instance, the original and complete Qur’an compiled and written by Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu himself, all the ancient Holy Scriptures like the Torah, Bible, Psalms of David, etc., in their original forms, and the Mushaf Fatimah, al Jafr and the leather bag containing al Jamid (two other divine books believed by them to have been revealed after the Qur’an), as well as the miracles of the Prophets of the past—the Staff of Musa, the Shirt of Adam, the Ring of Sulaiman etc. etc. With all these materials the four or five year old child singly vanished and hid himself in a cave of his city called Samarra.
The Shias believe that this child is the Last Imam and the Promised Imam Mahdi. Since the world cannot exist without an Imam—according to them—this Last Imam will live until Doomsday and remain concealed till the appropriate time when he will come out of hiding and establish his rule all over the world.
A perusal of the narrations which the Twelver Shia report in their books will convince one that the whole ‘case’ is fabricated, and then too not skilfully. On the contrary, the version of Imam Hassan al ‘Askari’s brother and other family members appears to be correct and worthy of belief. The story of the Twelfth Imam believed to be the promised Mahdi is indeed a wondrous tale, worthy of inclusion in the epic compendium of Middle eastern folk tales, better known in the English language as Arabian Nights.
Her name is said to be Mulaykah and that she was the granddaughter of the Roman Emperor. Some say her name was Nargis or Sawsan.
‘Allamah al Majlisi, in his Haqq al Yaqin, has described in great detail the amazing story of the mother of the Absent Imam which is not only most strange, but also unique in the annals of love. For the material of his book he has relied on the authority of Ibn Babawayh and Sheikh Tusi—two of the most influential Shia theologians. The report can be seen in Haqq al Yaqin.
The report has it that one Bishr ibn Sulaiman used to live in the neighbourhood of Imam Hassan al ‘Askari in the city of Samarra. He and his father were disciples of Imam ‘Ali al Hadi, father of Hassan al ‘Askari, and he was a slave trafficker by profession. He says that, one day, Imam ‘Ali al Hadi forwarded him a letter written in Roman along with 220 gold coins, with the instruction to proceed to Baghdad.
‘Ali al Hadi said to him, “You will see a boat on the banks of the river carrying girls for sale. Among them you will find a slave girl wearing a veil. An Arab youth will like to purchase the girl wearing a veil and offer three hundred sovereigns as the price, but the girl will refuse to go with him. At that time, you deliver this letter to the master of the girl and request him to pass it on to her.”
Bishr goes on to narrate that as directed by the Imam ‘Ali al Hadi, “I left for Baghdad where all that the Imam had said took place. Ultimately, the letter reached the girl and she kissed it again and again. The girl requested her master to sell her to the bearer of the letter otherwise she will commit suicide. The master agreed to it, and sold her to me for two hundred gold coins and she accompanied me. She told me that she was the granddaughter of the Emperor of Rome and her name was Mulaykah and her mother was the daughter of Simon Peter, the leading Apostle of Nabi ‘Isa. She said, ‘When I was thirteen years of age my grandfather (the Roman Emperor) arranged my marriage with his nephew. A magnificent function was held on the day of marriage. The Cross was placed on the throne on which the bridegroom sat, and Clergyman stood in a row with the Bible in their hands to perform the marriage. All of a sudden, the Cross bent low and fell down and the throne broke and the cousin with whom my marriage was being solemnised fell and became unconscious. After this inauspicious event, my grandfather decided to get me married to another nephew of his. Festivities were, again, arranged with the same pomp and splendour, but it all met with the same fate. This greatly saddened my grandfather. That night I saw in a dream that Nabi ‘Isa, his Wasi—Simon Peter, and other Apostles came into the palace of my grandfather, and a pulpit of light was placed in it. After that. Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, his Wasi—’Ali, and other Imams came and sat on the lustrous pulpit.
The Prophet said to Nabi ‘Isa, ‘I have come to ask you for the hand of Mulaykah, daughter of your Wasi, Simon, for this son of mine,’ and pointed towards Imam Hassan al ‘Askari who was sitting in front of him.
Nabi ‘Isa and Simon readily accepted the proposal. Thereafter, Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam delivered the sermon of marriage and Nabi ‘Isa gave me away in marriage to Imam Hassan al ‘Askari. I have not disclosed this dream to anyone besides you, but since then, the fire of intense love for Imam Hassan al ‘Askari began to burn in my heart and I lost all peace and comfort; and forsook food and drink.
The outward signs of the fire of love, also, became visible till; one night, I saw Mary in a dream accompanied by Lady Fatimah and thousands of damsels of Paradise. Mary told me that the Lady Fatimah, the leader of all womankind, was the mother of my husband. Hearing this, I caught her apron and wept profusely. I complained to her that her son, Hassan al ‘Askari, never came to me. Upon it, she said, ‘How can he come? You are a Christian and your faith is polytheistic!’ When I heard this I recited the Kalimah and embraced Islam. When I awoke from the dream I was still reciting the Kalimah and no night has passed since then when my husband, Imam Hassan al ‘Askari, has not come in dream and made me happy by making love to me. On his advice, somehow I managed to accompany the army of my country which was proceeding to fight with the Muslims. When the Muslims defeated the Roman army, I was captured along with other girls, and, thus, it is that I have reached you and succeeded in my purpose.’”
According to ‘Allamah al Majlisi, the granddaughter of the Roman Emperor, entered the home the Eleventh Imam, Hassan al ‘Askari, as a slave girl. According to Shia traditions, it was from her womb that the Twelfth Imam Mahdi was born in 255 or 256 A. H. The birth was kept secret, and the infant was not shown to anyone. He mysteriously disappeared ten days before the death of Imam Hassan al ‘Askari, at the age of four or five, with no one in the family having seen him besides his parents.
The Shia who believe in these things have been fervently awaiting his appearance and while speaking or writing about him invariably add the words ‘Ajjal Allah Farjahu at the end of his name, meaning, may Allah bring him out soon! The fact of the matter, however, is that about 1184 years have already passed, and thousands may still pass, in the same way, on his Absence.
As for her conception with the Mahdi, it is even more astonishing and weird. This is due to the fact that there were no signs of pregnancy whatsoever despite Hakimah bint Muhammad, as they allege, trying to confirm her pregnancy; She jumps toward her, as their narrations allege, and turned her from front to back but could not discern any signs of pregnancy. She returns to Hassan and informs him, but he assures her that conception has taken place and tells her, “When Fajr time comes the child will be born.” What is even more astonishing is that the mother of the child herself did not know of her conception till the night of delivery, to the extent that she said to Hakimah, “O my mistress! I do not see any signs of this in me.”
Apparently, denying any signs of pregnancy upon her was a ploy or an endeavour to avoid a fact confirmed even according to the Shia regarding Jafar (the brother of Hassan al ‘Askari) confining all the wives and concubines of Hassan (after his demise) in order to ascertain whether their wombs were occupied or not. Consequently, it became evident to the judge and the ruler that none had conceived which led to the distribution of the inheritance of Hassan.
Astonishingly, the very narration which denies the signs of pregnancy being visible even to the mother of the child contradicts itself and towards the end states that the child was speaking in the womb of his mother. Hakimah says:
The child responded to me from her womb by reading whatever I was reading and greeting me.
Likewise, Abu Jafar al Tusi, renowned Shia scholar of the fourth century, narrates from Hakimah herself that when Hassan called her to his house to oversee the birth of the Mahdi from his concubine she said:
“May I be sacrificed for you, O my master! Your deputy, from who is he?”
He said, “From Sawsan.”
She further says, “I had a brief look at all the concubines and I found that none had any signs of pregnancy besides Sawsan.”
So according to this narration she could easily discern the signs of pregnancy, but in the narration of Ibn Babawayh she tilted her from front to back but still could not see any signs. Likewise in this narration her name is Sawsan whereas in the previous narration her name was Narjis. And in other narrations she is recorded with other names. Each one adds his own details to the narration and the books of the Twelvers encompass all the various narrations.
Nonetheless, when he was born the following ensued:
He fell from the belly of his mother straight on his knees, raising both his index fingers to the heaven. He then sneezed and said, “All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the universes, may his peace be upon Muhammad and his household. The oppressors claim that the evidence of Allah has been defeated, if we were given the permission to speak all doubts would have vanished.”
In another narration it appears that he fell into prostration before Allah reciting the Tashahhud and praying thus:
O Allah fulfil the promise you have made to me.
He is then taken to the heavens with the conveyance of green birds, and when his mother Narjis cries out of fear over him Hassan placates her by saying:
He will be returned to you just as Musa was returned to his mother.
As for his development, it was completely against the principles of Allah in his creation, it violated all the rules of nature through which every living organism grows and reaches it culmination. This is easily understood from the narration narrated by Hakimah in this regard, she says:
When forty days had passed since his birth I went to visit Abu Muhammad and behold! I saw our master walking around the house. I did not see a face more beautiful than his, nor did I hear language more eloquent than his.
Abu Muhammad told me, “This child is very dear to Allah.”
I thus asked him, “O my master! I am seeing what I see of him and he is only forty days old.”
He smiled and said, “O my aunt. Don’t you know that we the Imams grow as much in a day as others besides us grow in a year?”
And the narration of al Qummi mentions:
A child from amongst us is such that when a month passes upon him he, in his development, is like the one who a year passes upon. A child from amongst us speaks in the womb of his mother, reads the Qur’an, worships Allah in his infancy, and the angels obey him and descend upon him morning and evening.
Surprising indeed! This child who came with a host of all these extraordinary phenomena is not known to anyone nor is there any trace of his whereabouts. What then was the benefit of all these miracles?
Shortly thereafter he disappeared and no one knew of his affair and his occultation besides Hakimah who, as the narration allegedly claims, said that Hassan ordered her not to divulge the matter of this child until she sees the dispute of his followers after his demise. He is reported to have ordered thus:
When Allah makes my body disappear and gives me death and you see my followers quarrelling, then tell the reliable among them (regarding the Mahdi). For verily Allah makes his friend disappear from his creation and obstructs them from him so that no one is able to see him till Jibril ‘alayh al Salam will present his horse to him so that Allah may fulfil a matter which is bound to happen.
Hence the issue of the Mahdi and his occultation leaked out to the Shia through the medium of Hakimah, as the narration of al Tusi suggests. I do not know how the Shia so readily accept the narration of a lone fallible woman regarding the very core belief of their faith, whereas they are at times willing to part with the unanimity of the Ummah if an infallible Imam is not part of it, even though it be pertaining to a secondary issue.
You will have noticed that the Imam ordered that the matter of the Mahdi be kept a secret but from his reliable partisans, whereas according to them a person who does not know the Imam is equal to a person who knows and worships deities other than Allah, and a person who dies in this condition dies a death of disbelief and hypocrisy. How is the salvation of the entire world dependent on a secret they were never meant to know?
As to the time of his disappearance, the narrations of the Shia are contradictory in this regard. So al Tusi narrates the following from Hakimah:
After three had passed upon his birth, I was desirous of seeing the friend of Allah, so I went to them. I started with the room in which Sawsan was and saw no sign and heard no mention. I disliked querying and thus went to Abu Muhammad and there also I felt ashamed of initiating the probing. But he spoke first and said, “O aunt, in the mercy of Allah, His protection, His concealment, and His knowledge till when He grants him permission.”
A second narration mentions that she did not see him after seven days, whilst a third narration mentions that she saw him walking in the house after forty days and did not see him subsequent to that. And yet another narration mentions that Hakimah would frequently go to the house of Hassan al ‘Askari, she would visit after every forty days. A few days before his demise (when the age of the Mahdi was five at most) she went to their house as was her wont. She says:
I saw a person whom I did not recognise. So I said to my nephew, “Who is this person who you are ordering me to sit in front of?”
He said, “This is the son of Narjis, this is my successor. Soon you will miss me so listen and obey.”
In this manner did the Mahdi disappear and no one knew of his matter besides Hakimah who only dispensed the information of his occultation to the ‘reliable’ Shia as their narrations suggest.
As to the place of his occultation, it was kept a secret, and when the Shia eventually got to know of his alleged occultation they tried to search for his place. The Bab, however, who claimed to have a link with him refused to divulge any information about him and sufficed on producing an endorsed letter attributing it to the Mahdi which stated:
If they know of the place they will inform others of it.
Some narrations of al Kafi inform us, however, of the town wherein he sought to hide. A narration for example mentions:
It is incumbent for the person of this affair to go into occultation. And in his occultation it is necessary for him to be in seclusion. And what a wonderful place is Taybah.
So this narrations states that he is hiding in Madinah Munawwarah, for Taybah is one of its names. This is supported by another narration wherein Hassan al ‘Askari was asked the following:
“If anything happens to you then where should I ask about him?”
He said, “In Madinah.”
On the other hand al Tusi in his al Ghaybah narrates that he is residing in the Radwa Mountain. He says in his narration:
‘Abdul A’la, the ally of the people of Sam says, “I went with Abu ‘Abdullah ‘alayh al Salam. When we halted at al Rawha’ he gazed at its mountain and said to me, ‘Do you see this mountain? This mountain is known as Radwa from the mountains of Persia. Due to its love for us Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala moved it near us. Behold on it is every nourishing tree and what a pleasant abode of amnesty it will be for the fearful at two occasions. The Man of the time will hide in it at two instances, the first will be short and the next will be long.’”
Whilst some other narrations suggest that he is hiding in the valleys of Makkah. Hence in Tafsir al ‘Ayyashi the following narration is narrated from Abu Jafar:
However, it should be noted that their narrations regarding invocations and visitations of the tombs of the Imams suggest that he is residing in the basement of Samarra, this is understood from the following:
Then go to the basement of occultation and stand between the two doors, holding the sides of the doors with your hands, then cough as if seeking permission, take the name of Allah, and sit with utmost tranquillity and sobriety. Thereafter read two raka’at towards the breadth of the basement and supplicate thus, “O Allah, the anticipation has become lengthy, the enemies are rejoicing at our misfortune, and combatting them has become difficult upon us. O Allah, show us the countenance of your blessed friend, during our lifetime and after our demise. O Allah, I acknowledge his return for you in front of the man of this land. Help! Help! Help! O the man of the time. In wanting to visit you I have ended all disputes, I have left my homelands and I have concealed my matter from the people of the cities so that you may intercede for me before your Lord and mine… O my master, O the son of Hassan ibn ‘Ali; I have come to you to visit you.”
Having said this, some of their narrations posit that the Mahdi is not in a steady place, rather he lives between the people, and he is present at the occasion of Hajj and sees the people but they cannot see him.
This is how disparate their narrations are in stipulating his whereabouts; every group goes its own way based on the various Shia families or based on different conditions and times, or of course till forging and misrepresenting continues.
It is no surprise that they have differed, because after all the Mahdi does not exist in the real world. Ibn Qayyim was true when he said:
These people have become an indictment to humanity and a laughingstock for every intellectually sound person.
After the disappearance of the Absent Imam (Mahdi), some resourceful Shia had succeeded in convincing the people that they visited the Absent Imam in utter secrecy and were, so to speak, his agents and emissaries. Four persons had made this claim one after the other, ‘Uthman ibn Sa’id al Amri, then his son Muhammad ibn ‘Uthman al Amri, then Abu al Qasim ibn Rawh al Nawbakhti, and the last being Abu al Hassan ‘Ali ibn Muhammad al Samarri who died in 329 A.H. The simple-minded Shia used to send their petitions and letters through them to the Absent Imam along with costly gifts, and these people used to bring back the letters of the Imam in reply bearing his seal, All this was done in a most clandestine manner.
Anyone with a little common sense will conclude that it was a ruse played by a few artful persons to deceive the people. But, according to the Shia, and their scholars and Mujtahids, the letters purporting to be of the absent Imam are his sayings, religious pronouncements, and fiats, and have been collected, as such, in their books of traditions. A collection of them can, also, be seen in the concluding pages of Ihtijaj al Tabarsi, Khomeini, too, has mentioned them as an ultimate religious proof and argument, and employed them in support of his own theory of Wilayat al Faqih. This short period when communication with the Imam was possible is called Ghaybat al Sughra or the Minor Absence.
These ‘devout’ representatives of the Imam—the sole link to the ultimate repository of knowledge—did nothing more than collect wealth in the name of the Hidden Mahdi and produce edicts from time to time condemning their rival claimants.
The business of emissaries ended when it came into the knowledge of the government and steps were taken to apprehend the person who were, thus, deceiving the people. Thereafter, the game was abandoned, and it was proclaimed that the period of the Minor Absence had ended and that of the Major Absence had began, and, now, no contact could be established with the Absent Imam till his appearance nor could anyone approach him. Nothing could be done then except to wait for his return.
According to Shia claims, a number of their leading scholars—and layman for that matter as well—have met and interacted with their Hidden Mahdi through the centuries. This despite them reporting from the Mahdi himself:
Beware! For the one who claims that he has met me before the uprising of the Sufyani and a call from the sky is a liar and a deceiver.
However, it seems the narration contains some fine print only perceptible to the Shia. We find contemporary Shia authors celebrating their wit in navigating around this massive hindrance, stating, “We CAN meet him, but we cannot claim that we met him if we do meet him.” The authors then go on to mention the places where the Hidden Imam can be met and rumours of those believed to have met him. However, they are sure to state thereafter that none of these individuals claimed to have met the Mahdi!
The absurdity of this hollow notion is clearer than daylight and requires no refutation. If the first hand witness is dubbed a liar for claiming to have met the Mahdi, how do those who never witnessed it become truthful by claiming the same? Yet another one of the perplexities and mysteries of the Shia faith.
In Ihtijaj al Tabarsi—considered among the most reliable books by the Shia—a saying of the ninth Imam, Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Musa, has been reproduced which says about the Last Imam that:
One of the unique things about him will be that his birth will take place secretly and people will not know about it and he will not be visible to people. From the four corners of the world three hundred and thirteen companions will gather round him, exactly equal to the number of Muslims who fought in the Battle of Badr. When 313 earnest and devoted persons will collect round him, Allah will reveal the Imam; i.e. he will come out of the cave and begin his mission.
It is significant that the appearance of the Absent Imam having not taken place as yet can mean nothing, in the light of the saying of Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Musa, except that during all these eleven hundred and eighty years since 260 A.H, 313 truthful and sincere Shia have not lived who could stand up for the Absent Imam otherwise he would have, surely, emerged from hiding.
Ahmed al Kisrawi, states:
If their awaited Imam went into occultation due to fear then why did he not make his appearance when the Buyid dynasty took over Baghdad and subjugated the Abbasid rulers? And why did he not emerge when the Safawid Shah Ismail arose and made bloody rivers flow with the blood of the Sunnis? And why did he not appear when Karim Khan al Zandi, who was considered to be one of the greatest monarchs of Iran, would engrave the name of your Imam upon the currency and would consider himself his vicegerent? And even today when the amount of the Shia has reached sixty million, all waiting his return, he has not made his appearance.
The traditions of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam quoted in the beginning of this treatise foretell the coming of a great Islamic saviour and reviver who will appear before the end of times. The narrations are clearly untainted by any form of sectarian prejudices, which further establishes its authenticity. The Twelver Absent Imam Mahdi, however, appears to be nothing more than the product of imaginative minds beleaguered by sectarian animosity.
In Haqq al Yaqin ‘Allamah al Majlisi has quoted a lengthy narration by a noted disciple of Imam Jafar al Sadiq, Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar, about the appearance of the Twelfth Imam. It sheds significant light on the Shia creed and the mentality of its followers. Imam Jafar allegedly said:
And he (the Twelver Shia Imam Mahdi) will order all the creatures (of the world) to collect in one place. The sin of all the wickedness and tyranny perpetrated from the beginning of the world till the end, and all the infidelity committed will be placed on the shoulders of those two [Abu Bakr and ‘Umar] and they will be held responsible for all of it, particularly for assaulting Salman al Farsi, setting fire to the door of the house of ‘Ali, Fatimah al Zahra’, and Imam Hassan and Imam Hussain with the object of burning them alive, poisoning Imam Hassan and assassinating Imam Hussain, his children, cousins and helpers at Karbala’ imprisoning the descendants of the Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and shedding the blood of the children of Muhammad in every age, and intentional and unlawful killing of every person and whatever rape and adultery that was committed with any woman, and taking of usury and making of illegal gains, and of all tyranny and oppressions committed till the appearance of the Absent Imam in any part of the world will be counted out one by one before those two persons and they will be asked, “Has not all this been caused by you and because of you?” They will confess their guilt for if they had not jointly usurped the right of the rightful person (‘Ali) (on the death of the Prophet of Allah), none of the sins and crimes would have been committed anywhere in the world. Imam Mahdi will then, direct the men present to take their revenge and punish them. Then, Imam Mahdi will order their hanging by the tree and order Fire to come out of the earth to burn down the two along with the tree to ashes. He will, thereafter command the wind to scatter their ashes in the rivers.”
Mufaddal, after it, enquired, “O my master, will this be their last punishment?”
Imam Jafar al Sadiq replied, “By no means. By Allah, Sayyid al -Akbar Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah, Siddiq al Akbar Amir al Mu’minin (‘Ali) and Sayyidah Fatimah al Zahra’, Hassan and Hussain—the martyr of Karbala’, and all the infallible Imams will come back to life and all the true believers and all the true infidels will be raised from the dead and the two will be punished for all the Imams and the Shia so much so that in a day and night they will be killed and brought back to life a thousand times. Thereafter, Allah will take them where He will like and continue to punish them.”
The hatred and animosity does not end here however in the same book, it is recorded with reference to ‘Ilal al Shara’i’ by Ibn Babawayh that Imam al Baqir allegedly said:
When our Qa’im (i.e. Mahdi) will appear, he will bring ‘Aisha back to life and punish her in vengeance for what she did to Fatimah.
‘Allamah Khomeini has, in his Kashf al Asrar, highly praised the work of ‘Allamah Baqir al Majlisi and recommended it for study, and reproduced some of its extracts in his own book.
‘Allamah al Majlisi has recorded, in Haqq al Yaqin, a tradition on the same subject saying that, “When Imam Mahdi will appear, he will kill the Sunnis, starting with their ‘Ulama’ before killing the infidels. He will kill all the Sunnis and wholly destroy them.”
The lamentations of the Shia and their cries of ‘Ajjal Allah Farjahu (may Allah bring him out soon) thus signifies nothing more than animosity and revulsion towards the Ahlus Sunnah. A more apt slogan for the Shia—as opposed to that recently circulated of One Man to Unite Them All—would be: One Man to DESTROY Them All. Since the Twelver Shia Imam Mahdi is nothing more than another sectarian despot, who will murder not thousands but millions of people, as wholly destroying the Ahlus Sunnah requires the mass execution of more than 1.5 billion people. Is this the Mahdi they wish the world to believe in? Is this the Mahdi believed to be the realisation of the verse:
هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ
It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although they who associate others with Allah dislike it.
I think not! Far be it from the Mercy to the Worlds to give glad tidings of the arrival of such a ruthless despot. Conversely, we the Ahlus Sunnah pray that Allah unite the Ummah of his beloved Prophet salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, remove their worries and their fears, whether it be achieved by us correcting our actions or the awaited Mahdi, who will be a means of inspiration to all.
Many great and devout men who have sacrificed their lives in defending and preserving din have passed through history. Men who were the vanguards of Islam, who stood up in defence of the truth despite the odds stacked against them, who persevered unperturbed by the persecutions they had to endure or the possibility of death looming over their heads. A legacy left by our Master Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It is this sterling example which inspired ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz, lent strength to Ahmed ibn Hanbal, and gave courage to Salah al din in retaking the blessed lands of al Quds. This is the example which has fuelled the resolve of every believer who has stood up for the vindication of the truth in whichever time or clime—from the inception of Islam until the last hour—and it is this prophetic example which the Awaited Mahdi will follow. After all it is the blood of the Mercy to the Worlds salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam which will be coursing through his veins, what other example would he then follow?
 Sunan Ibn Majah 2/1367, # 4085; Musnad Ahmed 1/84; al Bukhari: al Tarikh al Kabir 1/1/317, Musnad Abu Ya’la 1/359.
 Al La’ali’ al Masnu’ah 1/437, al Qawl al Musaddad fi al Dhab ‘inda al Musnad li Imam Ahmed pg. 59, 60, Lisan al Mizan (2/166)
 Al Mustadrak 4/557, 558.
 Sunan Abi Dawood 4/106; al Mustadrak 4/557.
 Musnad Ahmed 3/26, 27
 Al Manar al Munif pg. 147, 148; al Hawi 2/134
 Sunan Ibn Majah 2/1367, # 4084
 Sunan Abi Dawood 4/107; Ibn Majah 2/1367, # 4086; al Mustadrak 4/557.
 Sunan Abi Dawood 4/107; Musnad Ahmed 1/99; Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah; Al Sunan al Waridah fi al Fitan 5/1045 # 561
 Sunan Abi Dawood 4/106, Sunan al Tirmidhi 4/505 ; Musnad Ahmed 1/448, 1/376, 377.
 Sahih al Bukhari Ma’ Fath al Bari 6/491, Sahih al Muslim 1/136 # 155, Musnad Ahmed 2/336
 Al Ihsan Taqrib Sahih Ibn Hibban 7/235, Alif; Al Sunan al Waridah fi al Fitan 5/1054 # 572
 Musnad Ahmed 2/291, 2/312, 2/327, 2/351
 Musnad Ahmed 3/17; Musnad Abu Ya’la 66, Alif; Al Ihsan Taqrib Sahih Ibn Hibban 8/294
 Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah, Tarikh Abi Zur’ah al Dimishqi 1/572; Nuaim ibn Hammad: Al Fitan 98/Ba
 Al Mustadrak 4/554.
 Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah, Tarikh Baghdad 5/391, Dala’il al Nubuwwah 6/514
 Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah
 Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah
 Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah
 Musannaf ‘Abdul Razzaq 11/373 # 20775
 Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah, Tarikh Abi Zur’ah al Dimishqi 1/572
 Al Sunan al Waridah fi al Fitan 5/1056 # 574
 Nuaim ibn Hammad: Al Fitan 99/alif; al Sunan al Waridah fi al Fitan 5/1064 # 585
 Al Sunan al Waridah fi al Fitan 5/1057 # 576, # 577
 Al Mustadrak 4/553
 Usul al Kafi pg. 324
 Usul al Kafi, several narrations in a separate chapter beginning on pg. 175.
 Traditions relating to the birth, disappearance, and concealment of the Twelfth Imam are given in several chapters of Usul al Kafi, pg. 202-207, 333-342.
 Ikmal al Din pg. 395-400: Chapter regarding what had been narrated regarding the Narjis the mother of the Mahdi.
 Hakimah bint Muhammad ibn ‘Ali ibn Musa ibn Jafar al Sadiq.
 Ikmal al Din pg. 404.
 Ibid. pg. 404.
 Al Ghaybah pg. 74.
 Ikmal al Din pg. 404.
 Al Ghaybah pg. 141.
 For example: Rayhanah and Saqil (see: Ikmal al Din pg. 408).
 Ibid. pg. 406; see also: al Ghaybah pg. 147.
 Ikmal al Din pg. 404-405.
 Ibid. pg. 405.
 Al Ghaybah pg. 144.
 This is what appears in the manuscript. Maybe it ought to be ‘feed him’.
 Ikmal al Din pg. 144.
 Al Ghaybah pg. 142.
 Usul al Kafi 1/181.
 Ibid. 1/184.
 Al Ghaybah pg. 142.
 Ibid. 142.
 Ibid. 144.
 Because according to their narrations he was born in 255 A.H and al ‘Askari passed away in 260 A.H.
 Ikmal al Din pg. 405-406.
 Usul al Kafi 1/333.
 Ibid. 1/340; al Nu’mani: al Ghaybah pg. 125; Bihar al Anwar 52/153.
 Mu’jam ma Ustu’jim 2/900.
 Usul al Kafi 1/328. In the commentary of this narration al Mazindarani mentions, “Probably he meant Surr Man Ra’a.” (see: Sharh Jami’ 6/208). However, this possibility does not seem very plausible in the first narration.
 Al Rawha’ is a village belonging to the Muzaynah tribe, between it and Madinah are 41 miles. (See: Mu’jam ma Ustu’jam 1/681).
 It is a mountain in Madinah which has a lot of trees, treasures, and lots of water. It is the very mountain regarding which the Kaysaniyyah assert that Muhammad ibn al Hanafiyyah is living in and is being sustained. (See: Mu’jam al Buldan 3/51).
 Al Ghaybah pg. 103.
 Dhi Tawa: A valley in Makkah.
 Tafsir al ‘Ayyashi 2/56; al Burhan 2/81-82; Bihar al Anwar 52/341.
 Yaqut says, “Samarra is a town on the shores of the Euphrates River, it is north of Baghdad and the distance between them is thirty Farsakhs (one Farsakh is approx. five kilometres). It was initially known as Surr man Ra’a, but the people abbreviated it and called it Samarra Therein is the basement of the Jami’ Masjid wherefrom the Shia claim that their Imam will emerge. (See: Mu’jam al Buldan 3/173).
 ‘Ali ibn Ta’us: Misbah al Za’ir pg. 229; Muhammad al Mashhadi: al Mazar al Kabir pg. 216; Bihar al Anwar 102/102-103; al Shirazi: Kalimah al Mahdi pg. 471-472.
 Usul al Kafi 1/337-338; al Nu’mani: al Ghaybah pg. 116.
 Al Manar al Munif pg. 152-153.
 Ibn Babawayh: Ikmal al Din 2/193, al Tusi: al Ghaybah pg. 257
 Ihtijaj al Tabarsi pg. 230
 Al Tashayyu’ wa al Shia pg. 42.
 Haqq al Yaqin pg. 360-362
 Ibid, pg. 347
 Kashf al Asrar pg. 121
 Haqq al Yaqin pg. 527
 Surah al Tawbah: 33
 Other sources relied upon in the compilation of this treatise are: Usul Mazhab al Shia by Sheikh Nasir al Qaffari; Khomeini Iranian Revolution by Sheikh Muhammad Manzur Nu’mani; Al Mahdi al Muntazar fi Daw’ al Ahadith wa al Athar al Sahihah by Sheikh ‘Abdul ‘Alim ‘Abdul Azim al Bistawi.Back to top