BFnews: It is very interesting to note that even the Old Testament (Torah), (despite the manipulation and mutilation suffered over the millennia), has to say, about the eldest son of Prophet Abraham (as), Ishmael (as), from which is derived the direct line of descendency to the Prophet Muhammad (s) and the twelve Imams: “ And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.” (Genesis, 17: 20). The last of these twelve princes is undoubtedly the Mahdi ( may God hasten his reappearance).
Abu Dawud, the compiler of one of six prominent Sunni books collectively known under the name Sihah al-Sitta (the six true), reports the following saying of the Prophet (s): “Allah will bring a man of my progeny, whose name be my own name, and fill the earth with justice and harmony, where the tyranny and oppression have overpowered” Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja and others have also reported the traditions concerning the Mahdi, who claims to belong to the Ahl ul-Bayt (as), and is a descendant of Fatima az-Zahra (as) through the younger son Husayn (as). They also agree that the Prophet Jesus (as), to whom the Qur’an says that was not crucified and is alive, also reappears to support the Imam al-Mahdi (aj) in the fight against impiety. The belief in Al Mahdi (atf) is therefore an integral part of faith, it has inspired and lifted the spirit of the dispossessed and oppressed on one side, and on the other provoked consternation and terror into the hearts of tyrants and corrupt leaders, because they know that when the Mahdi (atf) appears, he will throw to dust the satanic powers, great and small, with all their claims of local and global hegemony.
Some have reached the point of denying this truth element of faith, and have engaged mercenaries and manipulators for distorting the facts. The disastrous result of these efforts has been the appearance in the history of Islam of individuals
” “ And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.” (Genesis, 17: 20) “
who have claimed that title for themselves, opening their way and that of their followers to the gates of perdition. These impostors have none of the characters of the Al-Mahdi (atf) which are mentioned in the traditions. In the light of Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet (s), it is clear that the Mahdi (atf) is none other than the twelfth and last Imam of the House of the Prophet, the Imam of our time, bearing the same name as the Prophet (s) and is connected to his great ancestor by an unbroken chain of successors. He is not an ordinary mortal chosen by fallible creatures. As the executor of Divine mission he will not depend on the whims and caprices, what pleases or displeases pompous and dull minds.
Imam Mahdi (atf) was born in the year 255 Hejira (873 Common Era) in Samara (present day Iraq), on the morning of the fifteenth day of the blessed month of Shaban. His father, Hasan al-Askari (as), was the eleventh Imam of the House of the Prophet. Narjis, his mother, was descended from Simon, the disciple of Jesus (as). His birth was kept secret by his father, the eleventh Imam, for fear of the Abbasid authority, which had serious concerns on his birth, prophesised in many traditions. He was brought up away from public contact, and was five when his father was martyred by poison.
Later, the authorities tried in vain to find him, but Divine Providence protected him from their machinations. During this period, known as “Ghaybat al- Sughra” or minor occultation, the Imam remained in contact with the Ummah through its four representatives, known under the name “Nawabin al-Arba”. Following the major occultation began the period, “Ghaybat al-Kubra”, after which time the Imam will reappear to fill the earth with justice and harmony, as predicted in the Holy Quran and the sayings of the Prophet (s). He is the “Lord of the affairs” of our time, and his next coming will be foretold by signs in the human and natural world. There will be frequent earthquakes, major fires will break out. Men will not know the meaning of mercy, murder, tyranny, immorality and unnatural sexual practices will become a norm. The world will be an image of chaos as a result of the domination of satanic powers. Nevertheless, true believers will not let themselves feel powerless. Not all will be lost for the oppressed, because, before the advent of the Al-Mahdi (atf) people of the East will rise in defense of truth and honour. As written in the traditions,
” In the light of Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet (s), it is clear that the Mahdi (atf) is none other than the twelfth and last Imam of the House of the Prophet, the Imam of our time, bearing the same name as the Prophet (s) and is connected to his great ancestor by an unbroken chain of successors. “
Al-Mahdi (atf)’s loyal army, which will pave the way to his lordship, will initially be made up of people of Khurasan, ie. the land to the East of the river Tigris.
Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Tirmidhi, Ibn Khatir and others report that the colour of the flags of the followers of the truth that will come from Khurasan will be black, and they will move towards the West and liberate Jerusalem from the domination of satanic powers. In his “al-Dhakhair Uqba, Muhibuddin Tabari reported the following narration of the Prophet (S): “After me, my house will face difficulties, hardships and persecutions, until a group of people come from there (and pointed to the East), carrying black flags. They will reclaim their rights after being denied to them. They will fight and be victorious: they will be given what they had claimed (the right to govern), but will not accept it, and deposit into the hands of the man of my house, which will fill the earth with justice when it was filled with oppression. Anyone living in that time will join them.
“The advent of Al- Mahdi (atf) is something which only the Almighty has full knowledge. Nevertheless, the thought of this event has inspired the virtuous to fight for the good of humanity at all times. Events in the last 30 years appear to reflect some of these traditions. Like many generation before us we can only speculate on the final reappearance of Al-Mahdi (atf) and hope that we will be the generation to witness God’s promise of a better world led by a man of justice who will govern with a divine mandate in a world in which everybody’s rights will be upheld. It is true that traditions tells us that before achieving this, there will be conflicts and that he will have to assert himself by force not for the sake of authority itself but in order to remove obstacles that prevents him from being recognised. Like his predecessors, the Imams of the Holy Household, his authority also cannot be based on coercion but on a wilful acceptance by the people. Such acceptance can only come once the veils of ignorance are removed and true reality made manifest. This will be his greatest and most difficult task. And this is why it is our duty to remember him and assist him with our prayers and actions now till the time.
By Anousheh Mireskandari
*The letter (s) stands for sallallahu alaihi wa alihi, which is the Arabic for “peace be upon him and his family”, used after the
naming the Prophet.
* The letters (atf) stand ajjal allah-o ta’ala farajja sharif, “May God speed his return”
* The letters (as) stand for alahyi as-salam which is the Arabic for “peace be upon him”.