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Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal
The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam
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This Islamic website offers facts about Islam and Muslims, Islam way and Islamic ideology. Online Islam - Latest Islamic World News, Articles on Radical Islamism & Jihad and Islam, Terrorism and Jihad
     
Islam and Sectarianism
07 Feb 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com
The “Hidden Imam” of the Shiites – myth or reality?

The Myth of the Shi‘i Mahdi

 

By Abu Muhammad al-Afriqi

 

 

The 15th of Sha‘baan is a very significant date, both to the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah. The Shi‘ah, however, have their own reason for ascribing significance to this night. To them it is the night of the birth of their twelfth Imam, the Hidden Mahdi.

Who is this Mahdi whose return to this world is so eagerly awaited by the Shi‘ah, and belief in whose existence in occultation forms such a integral aspect of the Shi‘i psyche? Before an adequate answer to this question may be given, there is a need to understand certain aspects concerning the Shi‘i doctrine of Imamah.

 

Background

The cornerstone of the Shi‘i faith is the belief that the spiritual and temporal leadership of this Ummah after the demise of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam is vested in the Imam, who is appointed, like the Nabi sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam himself, by Allah, and who enjoys all the distinctions and privileges of the Nabi sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam.

However, they believe that Imamah, unlike Nubuwwah, can never come to an end. In this regard there is a well-known Shi‘i hadith which says that “the world cannot exist without an Imam”, and another which goes that “if the earth were to be without an Imam for a single day it would sink.”

Thus, when it came to pass that the first of those whom they regard as their Imams— Sayyiduna Ali radiyallahu ‘anhu— left this world, a problem arose. Some of those who regarded themselves as his followers claimed that he did not in fact die, but that he will return to establish justice. Others said that he was succeeded as Imam by his son Hasan, who was in turn succeeded by his brother Husayn.

When Husayn died there were some who claimed to follow their other brother Muhammad (known as Ibn al-Hanafiyyah) as their Imam. When he died his followers claimed that he was in reality alive, and that he will return in due time. Others amongst the Shi‘ah took Sayyiduna Husayn’s son, Ali, surnamed Zayn al-‘Abidin, as their Imam, and upon his death transferred their loyalties to his son, Muhammad al-Baqir.

When al-Baqir died there were once again elements from amongst the Shi‘ah who denied his death and claimed that he would return one day, while others took his son Ja‘far as-Sadiq as their Imam.

When he died there was mass confusion amongst the Shi‘ah: each of his sons Isma‘il, Abdullah, Muhammad, Zakariyya, Ishaq and Musa was claimed by various groups amongst the Shi‘ah to be their Imam. In addition to them there was a group who believed that Ja‘far did not really die, and that he would return one day.

More or less the same thing happened at the death of his son Musa. Some of the Shi‘ah denied his death, believing that he will return, and others decided to take as their new Imam one of his sons. Some of these chose his son Ahmad, while others chose his other son Ali ar-Rida.

After him they took as their Imam his son Muhammad al-Jawwad (or at-Taqi), and after him his son Ali al-Hadi (or an-Naqi). At the death of Ali al-Hadi they looked upon his son Hasan al-Askari as their new— and 11th— Imam.

 

The death of Hasan al-Askari

The above is a very brief synopsis of a tumultuous and confusing history— a history from which a dedicated researcher might extract some very revealing facts about the development of Shi‘ism.

However, that is not our concern at this moment. We have now arrived at the year 254 AH, the time when a major section of the Shi‘ah accepted as their Imam the 22-year old Hasan, son of Ali al-Hadi, and 10th lineal descendant of Sayyiduna Ali and Sayyidah Fatimah radiyallahu ‘anhuma. Six years later, in 260 AH, Hasan al-Askari, at the very young age of 28, is lying on his deathbed, but unlike any of his forefathers he leaves no offspring, no one to whom the Shi‘ah might appropriate as their new Imam.

The Shi‘ah who had been regarding Hasan al-Askari as their Imam were thrown into mass disarray. Does this mean the end of the Imamah? The end of the Imamah would mean the end of Shi‘ism. Were they prepared for that?

The confusion that reigned amongst the Shi‘ah after the death of Hasan al-Askari is reflected by the Shi‘i writer Hasan ibn Musa an-Nawbakhti, who counts the emergence of altogether 14 sects amongst the followers of Hasan al-Askari, each one with a different view on the future of the Imamah and the identity of the next Imam. It must be noted that an-Nawbakhti was alive at the time all of this was taking place. Another Shi‘i writer, Sa‘d ibn Abdullah al-Qummi, who also lived during the same time, counts 15 sects, and a century later the historian al-Mas‘udi enumerates altogether 20 separate sects.

 

Trends

There were four major trends amongst these various sects:

(1) There were those who accepted the death of Hasan al-Askari as a fact, and accepted also the fact that he left no offspring. To them Imamah had thus come to an end, just like Nubuwwah came to an end with the death of Rasulullah r . However, there were some amongst them who kept hoping for the advent of a new Imam.

(2) The second trend was one to which the student of the history of “succession to the Imamah” would be much more used to. This was the tendency to deny the death of Hasan al-Askari, and to claim that he would return in the future to establish justice upon earth. We have seen this tendency emerge amongst the Shi‘ah at more than one critical juncture in the history of the Imamah of the Shi‘ah; it is therefore only logical to expect it to resurface at a moment as critical as the death of Hasan al-Askari.

(3) The third trend was to extend the chain of Imamah to Hasan’s brother Ja‘far.

(4) The fourth trend was the claim that Hasan al-Askari did in fact have a son. It is the fourth trend which ultimately became the view of the dominant group in Shi‘ism.

 

The missing son

This trend was spearheaded by persons who had set themselves up as the representatives of the Imam, and who were in control of a network covering various parts of the Islamic empire— a network for the purpose of collecting money in the name of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt.

All followers of the Imams were obliged to pay one fifth of their income to the representatives of the Imams. (This is a practice which continues up to today.) At the head of this network was a man called Uthman ibn Sa‘id al-‘Amri. His manner of resolving the predicament was unique: Hasan al-Askari was dead, he admitted, but he was not childless. He had a 4-year old son, Muhammad, with whom no one but he— Uthman ibn Sa‘id— could have contact. And from that point onwards he would act as the representative (wakeel) of the Hidden Imam and collect money in his name.

To the fact that Hasan al-Askari’s own family were completely ignorant of the existence of any child of his, and that his estate had been divided between his brother Ja‘far and his mother, Uthman ibn Sa‘id and his ilk responded by denouncing Ja‘far as al-Kadhdhab (the Liar).

In due time a fantastic story was brought into circulation about the union between Hasan al-Askari and a Roman slave-girl, who is variously named as Narjis, Sawsan or Mulaykah. She is mentioned as having been the daughter of Yusha‘ (Joshua), the Roman emperor, who is a direct descendant of the apostle Simon Peter. But history shows that there never was a Roman emperor of that name. The Roman emperor of the time was Basil I, and neither he nor any other emperor is known to have descended from Peter. The story goes on to tell of her capture by the Muslim army, how she eventually came to be sold to Hasan al-Askari, and of her supernatural pregnancy and the secret birth of the son of whom no one— aside from Uthman ibn Sa‘id and his clique— knew anything. Everything about the child is enveloped in a thick and impenetrable cloud of mystery.

 

 The four representatives

Uthman ibn Sa‘id remained the “representative of the Hidden Imam” for a number of years. In all that time he was the only link the Shi‘ah had with their Imam. During that time he supplied the Shi‘i community with tawqi‘at, or written communications, which he claimed was written to them by the Hidden Imam. Many of these communications, which are stilpreserved in books like at-Tusi’s Kitab al-Ghaybah, had to do with denouncing other claimants to the position of representatives, who had come to realise exactly how lucrative a position Uthman ibn Sa‘id had created for himself. The Shi‘i literature dealing with Uthman ibn Sa‘id’s tenure as representative is replete with references to money collected from the Shi‘i public.

When Uthman ibn Sa‘id died, his son Abu Ja‘far Muhammad produced a written communication from the Hidden Imam in which he himself is appointed the second representative, a position which he held for about 50 years. He too, like his father, had to deal with several rival claimants to his position, but the tawqi‘at which he regularly produced to denounce them and reinforce his own position ensured the removal of such obstacles and the continuation of support from a credulous Shi‘i public.

He was followed in this position by Abul Qasim ibn Rawh an-Nawbakhti, a scion of the powerful and influential Nawbakhti family of Baghdad. Before succeeding Muhammad ibn Uthman, Abul Qasim an-Nawbakhti was his chief aide in the collection of the one-fifth taxes from the Shi‘ah. Like his two predecessors, he too had to deal with rival claimants, one of whom, Muhammad ibn Ali ash-Shalmaghani used to be an accomplice of his. He is reported in Abu Ja‘far at-Tusi’s book Kitab al-Ghaybah as having stated: “We knew exactly what we were into with Abul Qasim ibn Rawh. We used to fight like dogs over this matter (of being representative).”

When Abul Qasim an-Nawbakhti died in 326 AH he bequethed the position of representative to Abul Hasan as-Samarri. Where the first three representatives were shrewd manipulators, Abul Hasan as-Samarri proved to be a more conscientous person. During his three years as representative there was a sudden drop in tawqi‘at. Upon his deathbed he was asked who his successor would be, and answered that Allah would Himself fulfil the matter. Could this perhaps be seen as a refusal on his part to perpetuate a hoax that has gone on for too long? He also produced a tawqi‘ in which the Imam declares that from that day till the day of his reappearance he will never again be seen, and that anyone who claims to see him in that time is a liar.

Thus, after more or less 70 years, the last “door of contact” with the Hidden Imam closed. The Shi‘ah term this period, in which there was contact with their Hidden Imam through his representatives-cum-tax-collectors, the Lesser Occultation (al-Ghaybah as-Sughra), and the period from the death of the last representative onwards the Greater Occultation (al-Ghaybah al-Kubar). The Greater Occultation has already continued for over a thousand years.

 

 Activities of the representatives

When one reads the classical literature of the Shi‘ah in which the activities of the four representatives are outlined, one is struck by the constantly recurring theme of money. They are almost always mentioned in connection with receiving and collecting “the Imam’s money” his loyal Shi‘i followers. There is a shocking lack of any activities of an academic or spiritual nature. Not a single one of the four is credited with having compiled any book, despite the fact that they were in exclusive communion with the last of the Imams, the sole repository of the legacy of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam.

When we look at the major sources upon which the Shi‘i faith is based, we find that most of them were written after the onset of the Greater Occultation. Those works, like al-Kafi, which was written during the latter decades of the Lesser Occultation, contain scarcely a reference to any of the four representatives as narrators from the Hidden Imam. Instead it is filled with thousands of reports which go back, via other channels, to the fifth and the sixth Imams. That is indeed strange, considering the fact that a man like Uthman ibn Sa‘id al-‘Amri is claimed to have been closely associated with the 10th, the 11th as well as the hidden 12th Imam, and also the fact that his son remained the Shi‘i community’s solitary link to that Imam for half a century. Would it not have been better and more authoritative for an author like al-Kulayni to report the hadith of his Imams from the Hidden Imam via his representatives who lived in Baghdad at the same time as he rather than to trace it all back to the fifth and sixth Imams through a myriad of doubtful channels?

But of course, he could not have done that, because the activities of those representatives did not have as much to do with authentically preserving the legacy of the Ahl al-Bayt as with the collection of wealth in their names.

In light of the fact that the Shi‘ah explain the necessity of Imamah in terms of the need for an infallible guide who serves as the repository of the legacy of Ahl al-Bayt, it appears extremely incongruous that this particular guide has left no sort of legacy of his own whereby the legacy of the Ahl al-Bayt can be known. Despite the fact that an infallible guide supposedly exists, it is upon fallible persons such as Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub al-Kulayni that the Shi‘ah must depend for that legacy.

The only bit of information that has come down to us regarding the Hidden Imam’s authentication of the hadith legacy of the Shi‘ah is what is recorded by Aqa Muhammad Baqir Khwansari in his book Rawdat al-Jannat. He writes that al-Kulayni’s book was presented to the Hidden Imam who looked at it and declared, “Hadha Kaafin li-Shi‘atina” (This is enough for our Shi‘ah). This is incidentally how the book received its name.

A report such as this creates a huge problem. It appears to be a ratification of the contents of the book al-Kafi by the infallible Imam. Yet, 9 centuries later the Shi‘i muhaddith, Mulla Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, would declare in his commentary on al-Kafi, named Mir’at al-‘Uqul, that 9,485 out of the 16,121 narrations in al-Kafi are unreliable. What did Majlisi know that the infallible Imam was so unaware of that he would authenticate a book, 60% of whose contents would later be discovered to be unreliable?

 

 Evaluation

The Iraqi Shi‘i scholar, Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr, finds proof for the existence of the Hidden Mahdi in what he calls “the experience of a community”. The existence of the Hidden Imam, he postulates, was experienced by the Shi‘i community as a whole in the written communications that the representatives used supplied them with.

The crux of this argument lies in the fact that an individual experience might be doubted, but never that of experience of an entire community. However, the glaring flaw in this line of reasoning is that it very conveniently overlooks the part of the representatives as the individual go-betweens.

The community never had the privilege of seeing or meeting the person they believed to be the author of the tawqi‘at. Their experience was limited to receiving what the representatives produced. Even the argument of a consistent handwriting in all the various tawqi‘at is at best melancholy. There is no way one can get away from the fact that the existence of the Hidden Imam rests upon nothing other than acceptance of the words of the representatives.

The activities of those representatives furthermore go a long way to show that they were much, much more inspired by the desire to possess than by pious sentiments of any kind.

So when the Shi‘ah commemorate the birth of their twelfth Imam on the 15th night of Sha‘ban, or when they seek to apply ahadith in Sunni sources which speak of twelve khalifas to their twelve Imams, then let us ask them on what basis do they accept the existence of the twelfth one?

History bears witness to the existence of eleven persons in that specific line of descent, but when we come to the twelfth one, all we have is claims made by persons whose activities in the name of their Hidden Imam give us all the reason in the world to suspect their honesty and integrity.

In Islam, issues of faith can never be based upon evidence of this kind.

---

Editor’s note: The article by A.M. Jamsheed Basha first published in this space was found by an alert reader Mr. HASAN IQBAL to be based largely on the above article by Mr. Abu Muhammad al-Afriqi without proper attribution to the original author. Mr. Basha was given an opportunity to rework his article and give proper quotes and credit to the original author. He has not done so until now even though nearly 24hrs have passed since the request was first made to him. Since taking off the article from the site would also mean losing valuable comments made by a large number of readers, it is being replaced by the original article on which it was based. My apologies to readers of NewAgeIslam.com, Mr. Abu Muhammad al-Afriqi and ansar.org.

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=1178

 ------------------

CRITIQUE OF THE TWELVER- IMAM SHIITES’ MAHDISM THEORY

Chapter 1:

IMAM MUHAMMAD BIN HASSAN ASKARI:

 A HISTORICAL REALITY OR A PHILOSOPHICAL ASSUMPTION?

http://ansar.org/english/mahditheory5.htm

             The Twelver-Imam Mahdism theory was a complicated theory comprising of belief in the existence of the twelfth Imam: ‘Muhammad bin Hassan Askari’ and in his being the Awaited Mahdi. It admits that Imam Hassan Askari did not openly declare that he has a son. The theory rather, claims that, he hid him in secret due to the fear of Abbasid authorities, that he would overthrow their thrones, and due to that, they were searching for him to kill him, while still in the cradle.

            Serious academic research on the inception of this theory however, reveals the existence of a long time interval between the two parts of the theory. As it was in the beginning, centered around the existence of a son for Imam Askari, who inherits the Imamate from him. But it later turned out to be belief in his being the Awaited and occult Mahdi. The theory found in the ‘Occultation of the Mahdi’, an interpretation of the non-declaration of his birth by his father, and his non-appearance after that.

            In order to confirm the truth of this theory that plays a very great role in the history of Islam, and in shaping of the Twelver-Imam Shiite political thought, it is necessary to dissect the different components of this theory, and study each in depth and objectively. We would have firstly to find out: Was the Shiite Mahdism theory before the middle of the third (3rd) century of Hijrah, clearly known and restricted to the person of the twelfth Imam- Muhammad bin Hassan Askari, or it was ambiguous and a general abstract idea.

A-   THE AMBIGUITY SURROUNDING THE IDENTITY OF THE MAHDI FROM AHL AL-BAYT

The history of the Imams from the household of the Prophet (Ahl al-Bayt) (peace be upon them), and their traditions being preserved by Imamate Shiite heritage, confirm the ambiguity surrounding the identity of Imam Mahdi and the non-declaration of his name or the time of his appearance. This was not due to the fear of the then authorities, but due to its not being specified beforehand. This was because Mahdism was initially mere idea and hope, hovering over the head of any one of them. This hope came to the fore when Imam Ali became the Caliph, and it became more intense after the murder of Imam Hussain bin Ali in Karbala. That was the time when many Shiites started preparing for revenge, and the overthrow of the Umayyad regime through armed revolt. The people were gathering around this or other Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt, with Mahdism being attributed to him. He will proclaim that and succeed, or die due to his proclamation and appearance. Some will then say, he has gone into hiding and occultation, and he will reappear in future.

            If the identity of the Mahdi has been outlined previously, since the time of Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and the Shiites have reached consensus regarding it, they would not have gone to the left and to the right, and they would not have been perplexed, asking the Imams on the identity of the Mahdi.

            Imam Muhammad bin Ali Baqir while addressing the Shiites said: “ You never cease looking towards one of us, saying: “ He is the one!” then he returns to his Lord, till the time when Allah will raise for this affair, one about whom you do not know whether he has been born or not, whether he has been created or not!” (1)

            Kulayni says: Hakam bin Abi Na’im once came to Imam Baqir in Madinah and said to him: “ I have taken an oath between Rukn and Maqam (two holiest parts of the Ka’bah in Makkah) that if I meet you, I will not leave Madinah until I know whether you are the Qa’im of the family of the Prophet or not. “

      Imam Baqir said to him: “ O Hakam, all of us stand by the commands of Allah”

      Hakam however, was not satisfied with this general response, so he asked him specifically:

“Are you the Mahdi?” Baqir replied again in a general sense:“All of us guide to Allah” So Hakam asked more specifically and clearly:

“ Are you the owner of the sword and the one who inherited it?” For the third time the Imam responded vaguely:

“ All of us are owners of the swords, who inherited them.”

      Hakam then asked (demanding) more clarity: “ Are you the one to kill to enemies of Allah?” Imam Baqir replied:

“O Hakam! How can I be the one, when I am 45 years of age? While the owner of this affair is closer to the time of breast-feeding than me, and lighter when he rides on the back of an animal.” (2)]

      Kulayni and Nu’mani both say: “That Imam Sadiq did not like identifying the person of the Mahdi. Abu Hamzah one of his companions once asked him:

“ Are you the owner of this affair?” He replied: “ No.” He then said: “What about your son? “He said: “No.” He also said: “Is your grandchild the one?” He replied, “No.” Then he said: “Is he your great grandchild?” He replied!”No”. He (hakam) said at last “Then who is he?” He replied: “The one who will fill the world with justice as it was filled with injustice and tyranny, after the interval of Imams, as the Messenger of Allah was raised after the interval of Messengers (peace be upon them).” (3)

      Supporting this is the fact that when Imam Sadiq convinced the poet Sayyid al-Himyari, who believed in Muhammad bin Hanafiyyah being the Mahdi, when he convinced him of his death, he did not specify for him who is the Mahdi. Al-Himyari said some poetic verses recording his transformation from the belief in the Mahdism of Ibn Hanafiyyah. But he did not mention the identity of the Mahdi: The meaning of the poetry is as follows:

“ My prolonged statements on the son of Khaulah was not in opposition, from my side, to the pure lineage. But what was reported from the inheritor of Muhammad (peace be upon him), and what he said cannot be falsified. That the owner of the affair will be lost, not being seen and concealed, like the fearful one, watching (people’s movements). The wealth of the lost will be distributed, as if his loss was in the grave. When it was reported that the son of Khaulah was lost (in occultation), we accepted it and went on speaking on it. We said he is the Mahdi and the Qa’im, in whose justice all will live. If you say no, your statement is the truth, and what I have been instructed is inevitable, without any prejudice. I testify to my Lord, that your statement is the evidence on all the people, the obedient and the disobedient. The owner of the affair and the Qa’im, whom I longed for delightfully, will go into occultation inevitably, may Allah bless him while in occultation. He remains (in it) for some time and then appear at other times and he will rule over the East and the West. This is my religions belief in secret and in the open, I will not mind even if I am blamed on it.”

      Although Imam Sadiq, in an earlier report did not deny the possibility of his being the Qa’im as he did not emphasize it, Saduq reports from Ibn Abi Ja’far that he heard Sadiq saying: “ Woe onto the tyrants of the Arabs of a matter that has drawn closer.” He also reports from Sadir, and he from Abu Abdullah that he said: “ O Sadir, stay at your home, not leaving it and stay for days and nights. When it reaches you that Sufyan has appeared, come to us, even if on your feet.” (4) This reveals that Imam Sadiq was telling his companions of the imminence of his appearance. Muhammad bin Hassan Saffar however, reports in ‘Basair al-Darajat’ from Abu Basir that he one day came to Abu Abdullah and said to him:

-         “May I be your ransom, I would like to touch your chest.” (Abu Basir was a blind man). He replied him:

-         “ Do it”. He said: I torched his chest and his shoulders. He said, “Why this, O father of Muhammad?” Abu Basir said: “ May I be your ransom…I heard your father saying that the shoulders of the Qa’im are a bit down, spacious and broad between them.” Imam Sadiq then said:“O father of Muhammad, My father wore the shield of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and it did not fit him…. I also wore it and it was this and that…. It will be worn by the Qa'im, and it would be as it was with the Messenger of Allah tight and fit, as if he raised its two sides by two rings. The owner of this affair will not be one, over forty (40) years of age. (5)

Tusi reports in ‘Al-Ghaybah’ a dialogue conducted between Imam Sadiq and Abu Basir, who asked him “Has this affair a long period (before being accomplished) so we relax ourselves till it comes?” The Imam said to him: “ Yes, but you revealed the secret and spread it, so Allah increased (the period).” He reports another tradition, with more direct bearing and clarity, where the Imam Sadiq said: “This affair was in me, but Allah delayed it, and He will do what He wishes in my progeny after that.” (6) This shows that the hope of Mahdism was on Imam Sadiq during his time. Due to this, when he died and the circumstances were not ripe for him to achieve his desired hope (ambition) the one inherent in the hearts of the Shiites, some of his followers, some of those very close to him, denied and rejected the news of his death, insisting that he went into occultation, and that he will appear very soon. They said: He was the Awaited Mahdi. The leader of such people was the leader of Shiites in Basrah: Abdullah bin Nawus.

 

THE HOPE OF KADHIM BEING THE MAHDI

With the intensity of the Abbasid political pressure on Imam Musa bin Ja’far Kadhim, the hope of Shiites who believed in his Imamate, increased as to his declaration and revolt leading to a rebellion against the Abbasid rule. Most of the Shiites believed seriously that Musa was the Qa’im and the Mahdi. They reported many traditions from Baqir and Sadiq in identifying his person. They might have added to it many things from their sides, based on their eagerness, love and suffering.

When Imam Kadhim died after thirty-five years of waiting and hope, the general Musawite Shiite populace did not believe the story of his death. They insisted on believing in his occultation, and his being alive and confirming that he was the Awaited Mahdi, who will appear and fill the earth with justice and fairness as it has been filled with injustice and tyranny

RIDA DENIES THE LIKELIHOOD OF HIS BEING THE MAHDI

That hope of (the Mahdi) returned to the Shiites after about twenty (20) years. That was when the Abbasid caliph Ma’mun called on Imam Ali bin Musa Rida, in the year 200 A.H. to Khurasan, and he appointed his as the Crown Prince in the year 201 A. H. This revived the hope in the minds of the Shiites and led them to the belief in the possibility of Rida becoming the Awaited Mahdi.

Kulayni reports in ‘Al-Kafi’ that Ayub bin Nuh went to Imam Rida and said to him. “ I hope that you will be the owner of this affair, and that Allah may bring it to you without the use of sword. You have already received oath of allegiance, and money have been minted with your name (on it).” Imam Rida however shattered his expectations and rejected being the Mahdi. (7)

When the poet Da’bal al-Khuza’i came to Imam Rida and recited a well-known poem: “ Schools of verses not being recited, and the house of revelation without premises”, he pointed to the Mahdi in an ambiguous manner. He said: “ The Imam has emerged. It was necessary for him to emerge, based on the name of Allah and His blessings. He distinguishes for us between the truth and falsehood. He rewarded for favours and calamities.” He did not mention him by name.

The identification of Imam Mahdi with the twelfth Imam of the Ahl al-Bayt, as it is known by the Twelver-Imam Shiites today, took place in a later date long after the death of Imam Hassan Askari, and the claim of his having a son in secret, in the beginning of the fourth century of Hijrah approximately. This happened after the development of the theory of ‘divine’ Imamate and its transformation from infinite number to limiting them to only twelve (12), so that the sect will be a Twelver-Imam (sect).

Sheikh Saduq has mentioned in ‘Ikmal al-Din’, which he wrote in the middle of the fourth century of Hijrah, a big number of traditions from the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him), and from the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them). Some of them point to the Qa’im or the Mahdi without specifying his name and the name of his father. Some of them emphasized and specified his position, as the twelfth (Imam), and that he is the son of Hassan Askari. As it came in another report that says that: Imam Rida asked the poet ‘Da’bal Al-Khuza’i’, after he has recited his poem in which he pointed to the Mahdi in an ambiguous manner. He said to him: “Do you know who will be that Imam? And when will he appear?” He replied: “ No, my master, except that I heard of the emergence of an Imam from among you (Ahl al- Bayt) who will purify the world of mischief and corruption, and fill it with justice as it was filled with injustice.” He said to him: “ O Da’bal, the Imam after me will be Muhammad, after Muhammad his son Ali, after Ali his son Hassan, and after Hassan his son, the Evidence, the Awaited Qa’im” in his Occultation whose obedience is mandatory at the time of his appearance.” (8)

These reports are weak traditions both in their chains of transmission and in their contents, for they cannot withstand academic investigation. We will discuss them in the chapter on the critique of the traditional (special) evidence, and its unsoundness will be established subsequently.

B – THE MAHDISM PHENOMENON IN ISLAMIC HISTORY

The several and frequent claims of being the Mahdi, extending to   tens of such claims here and there, are what further confirm the ambiguity associated with the identity of the Mahdi among the members of the Prophet’s household. This even led to each sect or group to have more than one Mahdi. This phenomenon shows that the term ‘Mahdi’ because synonymous with revolt, freedom and justice and its re-emergence again in corrupt circumstances shows that the Muslim world is degenerating, day in day out.

Most of the stories of Mahdism in the early Islamic generations were connected to revolutionary political movements that confront injustice and persecution and gathered around one of the leaders, mostly being one of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (peace be upon them). When such movements fail and the Imam dies before he emerges (as a political leader), or is killed in the confrontation, or hides in obscure circumstances, his followers used to differ. Among them will be those who will submit to and accept the reality, and start searching for another new Imam and a new occasion for revolt. Some of them will not submit to the reality and will not accept defeat, and will be quick at believing in hearsays, which have it that, the revolting Imam has fled and has hidden himself and has gone into occultation. It is usually the simple-minded people who fixed their hopes on a person, exaggerating his attributes. So it becomes very difficult for them to change their minds, for that will mean a failure and total breakdown.

THE MAHDISM OF IMAM ALI

The supporters of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (peace be upon him) who revolted against the Umayyad rule, and fought in the Battle of the Camel and fought Muawiyah in the Battle of Siffin, who also confronted the Kharijites in Nahrawan, were pinning their hopes in the rule of the Imam, during which they will enjoy justice and equity. Their hope in the Imam was very high. That was why some of them were shocked by the news of his assassination. They could not believe the news of his (untimely) death.

Shiite historians like Nubakhti, Ash’ari al-Qummi, Al-Kashi were saying that: ‘A group of Shiites did not accept the death of the Imam and they claimed that: ‘Ali was not killed nor did he die, and that he will never be killed, nor will be die, till he chases the Arabs with his stick and fill the earth with justice and equity, as it has been filled with injustice and tyranny.’ (9)

We can interpret this statement of the Mahdism of Imam Ali and his Occultation, as due to shock of the death, its sudden nature, as well as very high hope…This was because those people, were living very far away from Kufah could not bear the news of the Martyrdom of the Imam, after their hope in him, to establish universal justice on earth. This led to the acceptance of ideas contrary to the reality.

            THE MAHDISM OF IBN HANAFIYYAH

            After the massacre of Karbala Shiite fury gathered around the leadership of Muhammad bin Hanafiyyah, the brother of Imam Hussain for the purpose of revenge and retaliation for the martyrs of Karbala… When Muhammad bin Hanafiyyah died in obscure circumstances in the year 81 A.H, a group of his supporters –Kissanites-said that: ‘He did not die and that he was staying in the Ridwi mountains between Makkah and Madinah. They believed that he was the Imam, the Awaited Mahdi who was predicted by the Prophet (peace be upon him), who will fill the earth with justice and equity. (10).

            Sayyid Murtada Alam al-Huda interpreted the claims of the Kissanites on the Mahdism of Ibn Hanafiyyah as perplexity, which made them resort to it. (11)

            Perhaps perplexity and confusion was their lot, because they have pinned their hopes on Ibn Hanafiyyah to wrestle power from the Umayyads’ hands. They were disappointed when the desired goal was not achieved. His followers from among the Kissanite Shiites were forced to invent a doctrine on his Mahdism, and the perpetuation of his life and his occultation in their attempt to preserve the hope ignited in their hearts. Moreso that the Shiites in those days were aware of any predetermined particular personality as the ‘Awaited Mahdi’.

     THE MAHDISM OF ABU HASHIM

            Support for the belief in the Mahdism of Ibn Hanafiyyah declined with the emergence of Abu Hashim Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Hannafiyyah, as a new leader for the Shiites towards the close of the first century of Hijrah. Great hopes were pinned on him for attaining what his father was unable to attain… The crisis was repeated when Abu Hashim died without appearing (as the Mahdi)… This led to the belief of some Shiites in his hiding and occultation and saying that he was the Awaited Mahdi, and that he is alive and has not died. (12)

            As for those who admitted the death of Abu Hashim, they preserved their hopes in their hearts, by waiting for the emergence of one of the children of Muhammad bin Hanafiyyah in the future. They did not specify any particular person. (13)

THE MAHDISM OF AL-TAYYAR 

            The Shiites who formed the main opposition group to the Umayyad rule, immediately gathered around a new leader from the Ahl al-Bayt, i.e. Abdullah bin Mu’awiyah bin Abdullah bin Jafar Al-Tayyar, who succeeded in establishing a Shiite state in Isfahan at the end of the Umayyad rule. He was, however defeated later, and was killed in obscure circumstances. Some of the Shiites could not bear the news of the collapse of the Shiite state. They claimed that Al-Tayyar was alive and has not died, and that he was staying in the Mountains of Isfahan, that he wouldl never die till he  hands over the reins of affairs to a man from Banu Hashim, of the children of Ali and Fatimahh. (14)

CONFINING MAHDISM TO THE FATIMIDE FAMILY

            The Shiite theory of Mahdism was not confined to the Fatimide family in the beginning, as the Kissanites-representing a stage in the development of Shiism-limited it to the household of Ali (Alawites), seeing possible in Muhammad bin Hanafiyyah and his children: or they limited it to them, but it extended to others outside their fold, like Abdullah bin Mu’awiyah bin Abdullah bin Ja’far al-Tayyar. It later developed and became confined only to the Fatimide family, in the children of Hassan and Hussain. At that time it was not confined to anyone of the two households. Due to this a group of Shiites believed in the Mahdism of Zayd bin Ali. And another group believed in the Mahdism of Muhammad bin Abdullah bin Hassan bin Hassan (Dhu al-Nafs al-Zakiyyah).

            As Zayd was killed after little while, his followers went to Dhu al-Nafs al-Zakiyyah, Abdullah bin Hassan, his father has named him Muhammad and predicted at the time of his birth that he will be the promised Mahdi, who was foretold by the Prophet (peace be upon him) and has said on himregarding him, “His name is like my name, and the name of his father is like the name of my father”, as was popularly known in that period.

THE MAHDISM OF DHU AL-NAFS AL-ZAKIYYAH

            Dhu al-Nafs Al-Zakiyyah hoped to rebel against the Umayyad rule, when the children of Hashim paid their allegiance to him at Abwa. Among them were, Ibrahim al-Imam, Saffah and Mansur. But it did not take long that the Abbasid rule was established, so those who paid allegiance to him deserted him, and another group of Shiites flocked around him. He left Madinah in the year 145 A.H and took over Makkah and Yemen, but he was killed after few months. Due to this a section of his followers were shocked and could not bear the news of the defeat, and did not believe the murder of the Mahdi, whose appearance they were waiting since very long time. They said that: ‘He was alive and did not die, nor was he killed, but was staying on the Mount of ‘Ilmiyyah’-between Makkah and Najd-till the time he will reappear. They held onto the Hadith of the prophet (peace be upon him), which says: “The Qa’im (Mahdi’s) name is like my name and his father’s name is like my father’s.” (15) 

            As there were no explicit, specific and well-known Hadiths, which explain the identity of the Mahdi, the followers of Dhu al-Nafs al-Zakiyyah have explained the Hadiths of Mahdism as referring to him, and have interpreted the Hadiths related to (the Mahdi) to also refer to him. They might have even fabricated some reports and attributed them to the Prophet (peace be upon him), in order to augment their theory and to support their Awaited Leader.

THE MAHDISM OF BAQIR

            Some reports state that: ‘A section of the Shiites believed in the Mahdism of Imam Muhammad bin Ali Baqir (peace be upon him) depending on a report which says that: ‘The prophet (peace be upon him) said to Jabir bin Abdullah al-Ansari: “ You will meet him, so say my ‘Salam’ to him.” (16)

Kulayni says in ‘Al-Kafi’: ‘Imam Baqir used to confine to his companions that the emergence (of the Mahdi) and his appearance were imminent, and he advised them to maintain it as a secret. Some of them abandon all they were doing waiting for the time of the blowing of (the siren)’. (17)

           THE MAHDISM OF SADIQ

            After the death of Imam Baqir and the defeat of Muhammad bin Abdullah Dhu al-Nafs al-Zakiyyah, and the triumph of the Abbasids, and the popularity of Imam Jafar bin Muhammad Sadiq (peace be upon him), reports became widespread on his Mahdism. (18)

            Nubakhti reports that: ‘Some Shiites have reported from Imam Sadiq that he said: “If you see my head rolling to you from the mountain, you should not believe that, for I am your ‘Sahib’ (Mahdi).” And he also said: “If anyone informs you that he nursed me, washed my body (after death) and shrouded me, do not believe him, I am your companion (Sahib) and the companion of the sword.” (19) Hence a section of the supporters of Imam Sadiq denied admitting that he died. They also said that: “He is the Awaited Mahdi and that he is alive and did not die.” This group was known as the ‘Tawussites –attributed to Ajlan bin Tawus. (20) Among these group was Aban bin Uthman Al-Ahmar considered by al-Kashi to be one of the menof consensus (Ijma’), i.e. one of the closest people to Imam Sadiq. (21)

        THE MAHDISM OF ISMA’IL

            From the above, it seams that the various Mahdism theories were born with time and in different circumstances. They were more of hopes than dependence on clear and sound Hadiths. The belief in the Occultation evolves when an Imam dies before his appearance (as the Mahdi). The Shiites have never ever agreed on the Mahdism of a particular Imam previously, and ithas been the same from the beginning. At the time when some of them believed in the Mahdism of Imam Sadiq, some of them were fixing their hopes on the Mahdism of his son Isma’il. When Isma’il died during the lifetime of his father Imam Sadiq, his supporters denied his death, and invented a doctrine in his Occultation. They interpreted his funeral and burial by Imam Sadiq openly, as a drama aimed at concealing the fact that Isma’il has fled and has hid himself, as a preparation for his reappearance in the future! (22)

            It is well known that the Shiites differed after the death of Imam Sadiq into six (6) different sects. The Isma’ilites believed in the life of Ismail, as well as his Imamate, Mahdism and occultation. Some of them after their despair in his Mahdism turned to accept the Mahdism of his son Muhammad. They then transferred Mahdism to the children of Isma’il till the appearance of the last of them, at the close of the third (3rd) century when he established the Fatimide rule in North Africa.

        THE MAHDISM OF DIBAJ

Muhammad bin Jafar Sadiq (Al-Dibaj) who appeared in Makkah in the year 200 A.H., claimed that he was the Awaited Mahdi. He declared himself as the Caliph of the Muslims and took oath of allegiance from them, and was called the Leader of the faithful. (23)

            Therefore, we can say that the theory of Mahdism meant, emergence, revolt,… and was never specific in a particular person.The theory of occultation used to evolve whenever any awaited Imam fails or dies without achieving his goals.  

THE MAHDISM OF MUHAMMAD BIN ABDULLAH AL-AFTAH

            The only exceptional case, which was contrary to the above- mentioned rule at that time, was the theory of the Mahdism of ‘Muhammad bin Abdullah bin Jafar Sadiq’. This person was not born at all and did not exist. Some of the Fathite Shiites invented a story of his existence in secret, after the death of his father Abdullah Aftah, who was believed by those Shiites to be the Imam after his father Sadiq. Those Shiites were shocked when Aftah died without an issue to succeed him in the Imamate. They believed in the necessity of the continuation of the Imamate in the children and the grand children (of the Imam), i.e. being inherited vertically. Due to this they could not shift to the belief in the Imamate of the brother of Abdullah, Musa bin Jafar. They therefore invented the idea of the existence of a son for him in secret: They said that: “His name corresponds to the famous Prophetic Hadith: His name is my name, the name of his father is the name of my father.” (24)

            It cannot be ruled out that some people of vested interest and hypocrites from among the companions of the Imams might have fabricated this illusory story of the myth of the awaited Mahdi-Muhammad bin Abdullah bin Sadiq, so as to benefit from that financially, and claim being his deputy and receive money on his behalf. The stories on the existence of that illusory Mahdi were widespread in Yemen. And that he will appear, and fill the earth with justice and equity after it has filled with injustice and tyranny.

THE MAHDISM OF KADHIM

            With the Abbasid revolution and its deviation from its goals of reform and the spread of corruption in their rule, it was only natural that their opponents gathered around any great personality from the Ahl al-Bayt, i.e. Imam Musa bin Ja’far Kadhim (peace be upon him) who was a symbol of piety, knowledge and devotion. The hope of his emergence and appearance (as the Mahdi) grew. In this way there were a lot of reports on the Mahdism of Imam Kadhim, and the belief that he was the Qa’im from the family of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Some of the Shiites went on reporting some narrations from Sadiq that: “It was inevitable that my son is the Qa’im (Mahdi) of this Ummah, and the Owner of the sword”. And “Musa is the Qa’im, and this is inevitable from Allah”. “Even if his head will roll to you from the mountains you should not believe, for he is the Qa’im” “The name of the Qa’im is the iron (knife) of the barber.” “As if I am seeing the black banner with a green patch on it lowered over the head of this person sitting” and the rest of such reports that lack consensus!

            When Rashid arrested Imam Kadhim, many of the Shiites considered that as the first or minor Occultation. When he killed him and threw his pure body on the bridge in Baghdad, they refused accepting that or believing it, and they said, ‘It was an Abbasid drama’ and they said also that: ‘Imam Kadhim has gone into his second Occultation, and that he fled from the prison and he was alive and did not and will not die till he controls the East and the West of the world, and fill the whole of it with justice as it was filled with injustice, and that he was the Qa’im and the Mahdi.” (25)

            Most of the children of the Imam claimed the same thing, so also most of his close companions like Al-Mufaddal bin Umar, Dawud al-Ruqa, Daris al-Kinani, Abu Basir, A’yun bin Abdul Rahman bin A’yun, Hadid al-Sabati and Hassan bin Qiyyama al-Sirafi. Ali bin Abi Hamiza wrote a book on the occultation. Similarly Ali bin Umar al- A’raj wrote another book on that.

            Those Shiites were known as the Waqifites i.e. those who accepted the Imamate of Imam Kadhim, and refused faith in Ali bin Musa Rida.

            Dawud al-Ruqa hesitated in admitting the Imamate of Rida, based on those agreed reports, which limited Mahdism to Kadhim and say that: “The seventh of us, is our Qa’im.” Imam Rida said to him, “The hope of the rising (appearance) of Kadhim depends on the will of Allah and it was not inevitable.” (26)

            The Waqifites continued in their faith in the Mahdism and the occultation of Imam Kadhim for a long time. But they decreased in number with the passage of time, till the death of the theory and the extinction of those who believe in it, especially when Imam Rida confirmed the death of his father and said to them: “Allah’s evidence on His creation will be only through the Imam that is alive, and is well-known. Glory be to Allah. The Messenger of Allah died and Musa bin Ja’far did not die? Yes, by Allah he has died, and his wealth has been distributed and his slavegirls have been married.” He suspected those who claim that he did not die, of lying and said: “They are disbelievers in what Allah the Exalted has revealed on Muhammad (peace be upon him). If Allah exalted were to extend the lifespan of anyone due to the need of the creation to him, He would have extended the lifespan of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).” (27)

THE MAHDISM OF MUHAMMAD BIN QASIM

            In the beginning of the third (3rd) century of Hijrah, in the year 219 A.H and during the days of the Caliphate of Mu’tasim, an Alawite rebellion took place in ‘Taliqan’ under the leadership of Muhammad bin Qasim. Mu’tasim however defeated and arrested him and carried him to Baghdad, detaining him in his place. He was able to run away and fled. The people differed on his affairs. Some of them said that: ‘He has died or fled’. Some of the Shiites said that: ‘He is alive and he will reappear and he is the Mahdi of this Ummah’. (28)

THE MAHDISM OF YAHYA BIN UMAR

            Another Alawite Imam, namely, Yahya bin Umar marched out from Kufah in the days of Musta’in. He directed Hussain bin Isma’il to him, and he killed him. But some of his companions did not accept the news that he was defeated, and said that: ‘He was not killed, he only hid himself, and went into occultation, and that he was the Mahdi and the Qa’im, who will reappear another time’. (29)

THE MAHDISM OF MUHAMMAD BIN ALI HADI AND ASKARI

            The Imamate Shiites differed among themselves in the middle of the third century of Hijrah on the identity of the Awaited Imam Mahdi. A section of them said that: He is Muhammad bin Ali Hadi, who died suddenly in Dajil. They believed in his occultation, like that of Isma’il bin Ja’far. They did not believe his death. Another section of them claimed that Imam Hassan Askari was the Mahdi. A third section of them believed in the existence and the Mahdism of a son for him (Askari) in secret, namely, Imam Muhammad bin Hassan Askari. Yet others said that: ‘He (the Mahdi) is not specified, and that he will be one of the members of the Ahl al- Bayt, not by appointment, and that he will be born and will appear in future.” (30)

THE MAHDISM OF AN UNKNOWN QA’IM

            At last, two Shiite historians contemporaneous to the death of Imam Askari mentioned that: ‘A sect from the followers of the Imam said: “Hassan bin Ali has died, a confirmed death, and the Imamate has ceased till the time when Allah will raise a Qa’im from the family of Muhammad (peace be upon him) that have passed away. If He wills, He raises another person other than him, but from his forefathers. That is because the raising of the Qa’im and the appearance of the Mahdi is inevitable. The appearance of the Mahdi is on Allah. The reports came on the basis of that, so also sound narrations and a consensus of the Ummah. It is not possible to invalidate that. This is due to the fact that, the death of Hassan bin Ali has been confirmed, as his not leaving an issue has also been confirmed. So the Imamate has ceased, as he has no issue. Since it is not possible except in the children  (of the Imam). It cannot go to the uncle or cousin or brother after Hassan and Hussain. The Imamate has thus ceased till the raising of the Qa’im from among them. If he appears and emerges (as the Mahdi) (his affairs) will continue till the Hour of judgment. (31)

            All these several and conflicting claims of Mahdism movements express and show the ambiguity and vagueness of the concept of Imam Mahdi, and the likelihood of his being any of the Imams from the Ahl al-Bayt. That is the one who will appear with the sword, and establish the state and rule of truth. All the Shiite sects believed that he is from this Hashimite family, or that house of Alawites or Fatimide or Hassanite or Hussainite or Musawite house. And that he is this or that person. If the identity of the Mahdi has been determined before, , since the time of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) or the time of the previous eleven Imams, the Muslims would not have differed, nor would the Shiites, nor the Imamate Shiites, not the supporters of Imam Hassan Askari in determining the identity of the Mahdi. Some of them would not have believed ‘Imam Hassan Askari’ himself to be the Mahdi.

            We conclude from all these that: The identity of the Mahdi was vague and not specific or determined in the time of Ahl al-Bayt. That the belief of his being the son of Hassan Askari evolved after supposing his existence in secret, and in an attempt to explain his absence from sight, and the non announcement of his birth by his father, on the basis of considering occultation as (an essential) attribute of the Mahdi.

REFERENCES

  1. Saduq: Ikmal al-Din, p. 183
  2. Kulayni: Al-Kafi, vol. 1 p. 536
  3. ibid. Vol. 1 p. 341, Numani: Al-Ghaybah p. 187
  4. Saduq: Ikamal al-Din, p. 35
  5. ibid. p. 189
  6. ibid. p. 263
  7. Al-Kafi. Vol. 1 p. 341, Saduq: Ikmal al-Din, p. 370
  8. Saduq: Ikmal al-Din, p. 373
  9. Nubakhti: Firaq al-Shi’ah,p. 22, Saad bin Abdullah al-Ashari al-Qummi: Al-Maqalat was al-Firaq . p. 20 Al-Kashi: Marifah al-Naqilin an al-A’imah al-Sadiqin. P. 101
  10. Nubakhti: Firaq al- Shiah p. 34 al-Ashari: Al-Maqalat. P. 27
  11. Al- Shafi, p. 184
  12. Nubakhti: Firaq al-Shiah. P. 34, al- Ashari: Al-Maqalat
  13. as in 12
  14. Nubakhti: Firaq al-Shiah . p. 35, Al-Ashari: Al-Maqalat p. 35
  15. Nubakhti: Firaq al-Shiah. P. 62, Al-Ashari: Al-Maqalat. P. 76
  16. Al-Isfirayini: Al-Farq bain al-Firaq. P. 60
  17. Kulayni: Raudah Al-Kafi. P. 245
  18. Kulayni: Al-Kafi : Al-Raudah. P. 290
  19. Nubakhti: op. cit. p. 67
  20. ibid., Al-Ashari. P. 79
  21. Al-Kashi: Ikhtiyar Ma’rifah al-Rijal
  22. Nubakhti p. 68, Al-Ashari, p. 80
  23. As in 22
  24. Al-Ashari p. 88
  25. Nubakhti, p. 80, Al-Ashari, p. 89
  26. Al-Nuri al-Tabrisi Khatimah Mustadrak Wasait al-Shiah vol. 3 p. 595
  27. Al-Kashi: Ma’rifat al-Rijal. P. 379
  28. Al-Isfahani: Maqatil al-Talibiyyin p. 577 Al-Isfirayini: Al-Farq bayn al-Firaq p. 31
  29. Al-Kamil of Ibn Al-Athir, vol. 7,p. 43, Muruj al-Dhahab of Mas’udi, vol. 4, p. 147
  30. See Nubakhti: Firaq al-Shi’ah ,m p. 93,96,98 and 105, Al-Ashari al-Qummi: Al-Maqalat wa al-Firaq,p.101, 106, 107,108.
  31. Nubakhti: Firaq al-Shiah, p105, Al-Ashari: Al-Maqalat. P. 108

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URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamIslamAndSectarianism_1.aspx?ArticleID=1178

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The Truth of Imam Mehdi

A Shia viewpoint:

The full text is available here:

http://www.answering-ansar.org/answers/mahdi/imam_mahdi.pdf

 

Introduction

http://www.answering-ansar.org/answers/mahdi/en/index.php


The doctrine of the Mahdi (Messiah) is not only shared by Muslims of all denominations, but is also held by non Muslims. All those with faith cling to the day when all of the harm, suffering that plague the earth will be removed and replaced by a pious man that shall implement justice across the globe, bring stability to the nations and peace and tranquillity to all men. 

If we look at the history of Islam from the death of the Prophet (s) till today we see all manner of charlatan have sought to mislead the masses by proclaiming themselves to be a Prophet or the Awaited Saviour Imam Mahdi (as). All Muslims are in agreement that the doctrine of Prophethood had come to an end with the death of Prophet Muhammad (s). Muslims whatever their Sect have never rejected the doctrine of Imam Mahdi (as), rather both agree in the correctness of this doctrine. Both are in agreement that this individual shall be responsible for spreading truth and justice upon the earth. Hadeeth literature also proves that one that denies the existence of the Imam (as) is a Kaafir. If a difference of opinion exists it is over the identity of Imam Mahdi (as). The majority Ahle Sunnah opinion believes that he (as) shall be born at a later date, and appears when Allah (swt) commands him to appear. The Shi’a believe that he was the last of the 12th Imams (as) and is in occultation, and shall appear when Allah (swt) wants him to appear. For us the need for of an Imam for all generations at all times is an absolute necessity. We believe that Allah (swt) would not leave the believers without an Imam (as) upon the earth, and we believe that the very lifespan of this earth is linked to his lifespan. When his lifespan expires, the earth will likewise come to an end. The earth depends on him (as) and when the veil of occultation is raised by Allah (swt) it will be through him that an earth destroyed by bloodshed and misery will be uprooted and restored to beauty and splendour, with the Kingdom of God on the earth. To this effect we have explicit authentic Shi’a traditions affirming what our Imam (as) shall attain when he reappears:

Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from his father from Hannan ibn Sadir from Ma‘ruf ibn Kharrabudh from abu Ja'far (a.s.) who has said the following. "We are only like the stars in the heavens. Whenever one star disappears (from sight) another one comes in view until you will point out with your fingers and make a gesture with your necks. Allah will cause your star to disappear from your sight. The descendants of ‘Abd al-Muttalib will all look similar as such that one would not know which is which. When your star will reappear then you must give thanks to Allah." 
Usool al-Kafi, Vol 1, Kitab al-Hujjat, H 895, Ch. 80, h 8
Allamah al-Majlesi said: 'Muwathak Hasan' [ Mirat al-Uqool, v4 p45] 

Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated from from his father from ibn abu "Umayr from abu Ayyub al-Khazzaz from Muhammad ibn Muslim who has said the following. "I heard abu ‘Abdallah (a.s.) say, "The person in charge of this task (Leadership with Divine Authority) will disappear from public sight you must not reject it." 
Usool al-Kafi, Vol 1, Kitab al-Hujjat, H 897, Ch. 80, h 10
Allamah al-Majlesi said: 'Hasan' [Mirat al-Uqool, v4 p46] 

A number of our people has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from Ali ibn al-Hakam from abu Ayyub al-Khazzaz from Muhammad ibn Muslim who has said the following. "When you would hear about the disappearance of your companion (Leader with Divine Authority) from public sight do not reject it." 
Usool al-Kafi, Vol 1, Kitab al-Hujjat, H 902, Ch. 80, h 15
Allamah al-Majlesi said: 'Sahih' [Mirat al-Uqool, v4 p50] 

A number of our people has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from al-Hassan ibn Ali al-Washsha’ from Ali ibn abu Hamza from abu Basir from abu ‘Abdallah (a.s.) who has said the following. "It is necessary for the person in charge of this task (Leadership with Divine Authority) to disappear from the public sight and in his disappearance form public sight he must remain away from public. How good is Tayba, the city of Madina, for dwelling and living with thirty people is not frightening isolation." 
Usool al-Kafi, Vol 1, Kitab al-Hujjat, H 903, Ch. 80, h 16
Allamah al-majlesi said: 'Muwathak' [Mirat al-Uqool, v4 p50] 

Through the same chain of narrators it is narrated from al-Washsha’ from Ali ibn al-Hassan from Aban ibn Taghlib who has said the following. "How would it be with you when a lagre scale attack would take place between the two mosques. Thereafter, knowledge will become obscure as the snake goes in to its hiding place. The Shi‘a (Muslims) will hold differences and one group will call the group liars and one group will spit onto the faces of the another." I then said, "May Allah take my soul in service for your cause, there will be nothing good in such conditions." The Imam (a.s.) said, "All goodness will be there." He said it three times. 
Usool al-Kafi, Vol 1, Kitab al-Hujjat, H 904, Ch. 80, h 17
Allamah al-majlesi said: ‘Sahih’ [Mirat al-Uqool, v4 p51] 

Through the same chain of narrators it is narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from his father, Muhammad ibn ‘Isa from ibn Bukayr from Zurara who has said the following. " Al-Qa’im (the one who will rise with Divine Authority) will disappear before he will rise with divine power. He will suffer fear. The Imam (a.s.) pointed to his midsection, meaning thereby being murdered." 
Usool al-Kafi, Vol 1, Kitab al-Hujjat, H 905, Ch. 80, h 18
Allamah al-majlesi said: 'Muwathak as Sahih' [Mirat al-Uqool, v4 p52] 

Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Muhammad ibn al-Husayn from ibn Mahbub from Ishaq ibn ‘Ammar who has said the following. "Abu ‘Abdallah (a.s.) has said, Al-Qa’im ((the one who will rise with Divine Authority) will have two disappearances. One of them will be for a short time and the other for a longer time. No one would know his place during the shorter disappearance except the special persons from his Shi‘a. During his longer disappearance no one will see him except very special persons from his friends." 
Usool al-Kafi, Vol 1, Kitab al-Hujjat, H 906, Ch. 80, h 19
Allamah al-majlesi said: 'Muwathak' [Mirat al-Uqool, v4 p52] 

A number of our people has narrated from Sa‘d ibn ‘Abdallah from Ayyub ibn Nuh who has said the following. "I said to abu al-Hassan al-Rida (a.s.), ’Isma‘il hope that you will become the incharge of this task (Leadership with Divine Authority). Allah will drive it to your control with the sword now that the pledge of allegiance is offered to you and currency coins are printed in your name." The Imam (a.s.) said, "There has been no one from us with whom letters had been exchanged, being pointed out with the gesture of fingers, questions asked and properties delivered to him but that he was murdered or died in his bed. (It will be as such) until Allah will raise for this task (Leadership with Divine Authority) a young boy from us whose birth place and upbringing would be unknown (to people) but not his ancestors." 
Usool al-Kafi, Vol 1, Kitab al-Hujjat, H 912, Ch. 80, h 25
Allamah al-Majlesi said: 'Mursal as Sahih' [Mirat al-Uqool, v4 p56] 

Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Ahmad ibn Muhammad from al-Husayn ibn Sa‘id from ibn abu ‘Umayr from Hisham ibn Salim from abu ‘Abdallah (a.s.) who has said the following. "Al-Qa’im (the one who will rise with Divine Authority) will rise and he will not be obliged to any one under any covenant, agreement or oath of allegiance." 
Usool al-Kafi, Vol 1, Kitab al-Hujjat, H 914, Ch. 80, h 27
Allamah al-Majlesi said: ‘Sahih’ [Mirat al-Uqool, v4 p58] 

One would assume that a topic wherein both Sects are agreed on would not attract much need for disputes, unfortunately the followers of Mu’awiyah have still deemed it essential that this is also exploited to the Sunni masses as further evidence of the deviancy of the Shi’a. To enable this all manner of Nawasib has entered the arena desperate to incite hatred and violence against the Shi’a. The article ‘the myth of the Shi’I Mahdi’ is one such example, wherein the author has sought to mock and refute the Shi’a stance on Imam Mahdi (as). Azam Tariq then sought to take that hatred a stage further by especially citing those traditions that would appear the most extreme and disturbing to the Sunni masses, enabled through his usual method of tampering with Shi’a texts to create maximum hostility.

In this article we shall seek to evidence the existence of Imam Mahdi (as) through reliance of Qur’anic verses, Hadeeth literature and Sunni texts. Thereafter we shall address the lies of Azam Tariq, and conclude with the spiritual aspect of our Imam (as).

Source: ansar.org

 

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamIslamAndSectarianism_1.aspx?ArticleID=1178

 

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COMMENTS
Sultan Shahin

May I seek the indulgence of our readers to resubmit this letter, as I am still expecting a response from Dr. S. Riaz Mehdi Saheb.

---

 Dear Dr. S. Riaz Mehdi

Thanks very much indeed for your compliments. May God bless you!

The venom in the debates on NewAgeIslam.com has surprised me as much as it has shocked you. This is merely indicative of the venom in the community. Our sojourn in the land of pointlessness. It probably explains why we are gradually becoming irrelevant to the world, even as it tries hard to destroy us and our faith by using people from within us.

Most Muslims clearly prefer to fight it out with one another than think constructively on any issue of universal concern to the community even in these critical times. You may have noticed that several articles posted on our site that deal with issues vital to us in present times go virtually uncommented and un-debated, though of course, they too are read, as I know from a system embedded in the website. A large number of Muslims prefer to live in the 7th century and debate the issues of those days, even fight those wars again and again, knowing full well that it is simply impossible to know the facts of that history when it is so difficult to know what is going on even today in this electronic media age.

Sectarianism among Muslims has turned bloody and should be an area of great concern to all Muslims, as it is to you. Only a couple of days ago a Jahannumi “Jihadi” , presumably a Sunni, killed scores of our Shia brothers in a mosque in Pakistan. This has become a regular event now, at least in Pakistan. Both Sunni-Wahhabi Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran are funding murderous groups of Sunnis and Shias respectively to further this trend, while the Pakistani state is unable to control this proxy warfare on its land.  We in India are more fortunate in having some sensible clerics, particularly among Shias, who have not allowed Shia-Sunni differences to degenerate into warfare.

It would be suicidal for the Muslim community to promote sectarian prejudices. New Age Islam would never do that. My views on the subject, with all their inadequacies, are available on the site:

The Shia-Sunni divide: How real and how deep? Can we move towards genuine unity?

http://www.newageislam.com/NewAgeIslamArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=857

However, real unity cannot be achieved on the basis of ignorance of each others’ faith. The only way to learn is not to avoid controversial issues, but to discuss them threadbare, and of course in a civilized fashion.  Unfortunately some of our discussants are more interested in discovering a person’s DNA and genetic history or real identity and sex and age than in the substantive issues arising out of what he or she may be saying.

Discussions and debates are invaluable. That is what this site is essentially for. Already within a few hours of debate on the issue raised by Mr. Jamsheed Basha, it has become clear that there is far more unity among Shias and Sunnis on the issue of Imamat than one would have thought possible in the atmosphere of blood-letting prevalent today. Sunnis would in fact appear to be as sensitive about discussing the issue as are the Shias. It also appears - from the discussion SO FAR - that neither group thinks that there is any reality behind the claims of continuing or disappearing Imamat and that it is indeed nothing more than a myth. 

The guilty beating around the bush also seems to show that both Sunni and Shia believers in the disappeared Imam are aware that generating and sustaining and propagating myths are against the spirit of Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had stubbornly refused to create cheap miracles to satisfy the Meccans who hasd set this as a condition for embracing Islam. He gave our faith a firm footing in reason and logic. Islam’s greatest claim to fame is its historicity and rationality. The Shiites apparently felt the need to invent Imams, even make them disappear, to justify and give an ideological veneer to their political separation with the family of Abu Jahal, and other inveterate enemies of Islam, who had captured Islamic faith and Islamic state, after killing the family of the Prophet in the most dastardly fashion. But in doing so they too seem to have distorted Islam as much as did the Yazidis. They took Islam in a different direction, a direction that Hazrat Ali or Imam Husain would not have wanted to be taken. Islam stood for perfect equality of human beings, except on grounds of piety. Making it a property (Jageer) of either Abu Jahal or Hazrat Ali would be denigrating it. Islam’s USP, on the basis of which the world flocked to it and still does, is its pronouncement of perfect equality between all human beings.

Another related question that arises from this discussion is: Can faith be completely and totally rational? My understanding of the spirit of Islam is that faith need not be irrational, though it may need to go beyond reason. Faith may transcend reason and rationality; but it should not contradict logic and common sense.

Let us try and go beyond the Sunni and Shia distortions of our Faith, reach out to the original Islam and see how its spirit can guide us in the present age.

Sultan Shahin

traveler

I think Mr. Sultan Shahin has cleared the air on the issue of piracy and as I already suspected he in good faith believed the authenticity of the claim of originality by Mr. Basha ( any simple and sobre person will do because such acts are not really expected from someone calling himself a GREAT SCHOLOR/ POLITICAL COLUMNIST/ REFORMER etc. etc.

Now as Shahin sahab suggests let us resove the issue of the Imamat itslf and that of 12th (ghayab) Imam in particular.. For the timebeing I would like to reost my first comment here which will probably explain my viewpoint on need for Imams and their mention in divine scripture.. regarding the mahdi I would like to withold my views for the time being till others have expressed theirs...

" let me kindly add that in Quran itself God said that " AND WE REVEALED THE BOOK WITH " HAQ" now debate over the issue what god meant by HAQ?..

2- can there be a sane concept of a university with a magnificient Library but without the FACULTY ?

3- decay is inherent property of every physical object or ideology ( as can anyday be testified by the history of civilizations and their religions).. Proud muslims think they will retain the pristine Islam because it is the final revelation/faith..they have understandable reasons to think that way, but what people like you fail to see is that in the physical mortal world full of vanity some agency is needed to act as sentinels of the scripture/ faith.. let us assume they are the AHADITHS  then it is little awkward to acknowledge a book guarding another book..the agency has to be human because the scripture is primarily revealed for human race..

4- from your article one thing apears that you have deliberately steered clear of commiting your stand on MAHDI's status...do you by any means want to say that Naoodobillah THERE IS NO MAHDI...?!! it is all imagination... ( in that case you will have a long job of clearing both shia and sunni sources claiming the authanticity of the claim..and possibly you won't succeed till your future generations meet mahdi in flesh and blood and catches by ear..;  The other possibility is that although you accept concept of Mahdi but what you can't digest is the shia claim regarding his occultation?.. if later is the case then a sound debate is probably possible

regards

Aamir Mughal

why can’t we just do the same, though of course, seeking guidance from these sources in the context of our own Age, and be good Muslims. Why do we need to be Shia or Sunni or Wahhabi and whatever/? Why can’t we be just Muslims? [Sultan Shahin]

==============================

Dear Sultan Sahab,

More than agreed.

True Muslims should be content with the name "Muslims given to them by Almighty Allah as He says:

And strive for Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Abraham (is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this (Scripture), that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship, pay the poor-due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper! [AL-HAJJ (THE PILGRIMAGE) Chapter 22 - Verse 78]

Sultan Shahin
 Thanks very much indeed Janab HASAN IQBAL Sahab, for your alertness and such painstaking research. Mr. Jamsheed Basha does seem to have lifted entire paragraphs from another article without proper attribution to the original writer. This is neither good research nor good journalism. While both researchers and journalists use material from elsewhere proper attribution is the rule that must be followed. Indeed, attribution also serves to add to the credibility of one’s write-up, especially in articles that are bound to raise controversy, as it tells readers that the writer has not concocted these facts himself and there are others also who are saying the same thing and testifying to these facts. I would have taken this article off the site except for the fact that this would also deprive the site of valuable comments from readers like you and others. I would therefore request Mr. Basha to quickly resubmit the text with proper ascription wherever required. I would have no option but to take the article off the site otherwise. Authors should understand that while editors cannot but treat stuff submitted to them on faith, they do have the option to blacklist authors who are found by alert readers, many of whom are specialists in that field,  to have used material without proper acknowledgment to the original. In this case I find – to the extent I could see and do correct me if I am wrong – that Abu Muhammad Al-Afriqi too has not quoted any sources for his facts. Let us hope he too has not lifted these facts from some authentic source without attribution but his write-up is based on original research. Anyway, Mr. Hasan Iqbal, now that you have established that Mr. Basha has not concocted these facts, though he has undoubtedly caused great embarrassment to the site by omitting to quote his sources, and presenting them as his own research, I hope you or some other reader will seek to enlighten us on the authenticity of imams who are first made to appear and then to disappear. The questions before us today are the following: What purpose does this institution of hidden imam serve? Does this institution have any basis in the Holy Quran or is it just a concoction like many ahaadeeth. And why do we need hidden imams so much, as we already have the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of a Prophet (PBUH) to follow. If the illiterate Bedouins of Arabia of 1400 years ago could understand and follow the Quran and the instructions of Rasoolullah, why can’t we just do the same, though of course, seeking guidance from these sources in the context of our own Age, and be good Muslims. Why do we need to be Shia or Sunni or Wahhabi and whatever? Why can’t we be just Muslims?Sultan Shahin 
Aamir Mughal

Thanks very much Mr Sultan Shahin for bringing awareness among muslims. I would like supplement your views a little here ... Instead of criticizing others faith if we people at least make us correct ourselves then I think its enough for us. we must have to look at ourselves how good muslims are we? Allama Iqbal said in Jawab-e-shikwa...Tum Syed bhi ho, Mirza bhi ho, Afghan bhi ho : Tum sabhi kuch ho batao k musalman bhi ho .I will suggest all to watch these two videos its good for our awareness and to learn lesson from them. [Omar Hayat Khan]

http://www.brasstacks.pk/brasstacks/VideosTVPrograms/ZionistWarAgainstIslam/tabid/85/Default.aspx

Dear Sultan Sahab,

Also dont forget to read the posts below about Multifaceted Fraud in the video above:

Zaid Hamid is a Fraud Par Excellence - 1

Zaid Hamid is a Fraud Par Excellence - 2

Zaid Hamid is a Fraud Par Excellence - 3

Zaid Hamid is a Fraud Par Excellence - 4

Zaid Hamid is a Fraud Par Excellence - 5

Zaid Hamid is a Fraud Par Excellence - 6

Zaid Hamid is a Fraud Par Excellence - 7

Zaid Hamid is a Fraud Par Excellence - 8

Zaid Hamid is a Fraud Par Excellence - 9

Zaid Hamid is a Fraud Par Excellence - 10

Zaid Hamid is a Fraud Par Excellence - 11

Zaid Hamid is a Fraud Par Excellence - 12

Zaid Hamid is a Fraud Par Excellence - 13

Zaid Hamid is a Fraud Par Excellence - 14

More Comments... Total Comments: 75
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