Exactly when will he appear? Is there a deadline for his occultation to end?
L. S. Walbridge wrote concerning this point:
When I asked young Shari'ah-minded Ismael when he thought Al-Mahdi would return, he responded, "It is not allowed to make such predictions. "But he could not help adding, "There are signs that it may be coming soon." ... But his equally Shari'ah-minded wife on another occasion told me that she was studying with a visiting Shaykh from Lebanon who was not at all reticent about making some predictions. She reported that he told his class that the war in Lebanon, Arab against Arabs, Jews coming back home, all these things, and many more must happen before Al-Mahdi comes with Jesus to being justice to the world." ... From her understanding of what the Sheikh was teaching, she is convinced that the Imam's return is imminent. Indeed, one of the most soughteafter religious books in the community is a popular account in Arabic of the prophecies of the Mahdi that shows how they are in the process of fulfillment ... Six of my respondents told me explicitly that the Mahdi would return before the year of 2000. These tended to be the most traditional and least educated, but to use that exact dated, it wsa apparent that they see the Mahdi's time as having come. And longing for the Mahdi. Hajj C., a second-generation American, told me. "He doesn't have to come in my lifetime, but I would like to respond to his call. "He said he was prepared to give up everything to follow the Mahdi. Hajj M., also a second-generation believer, said that it was Sheikh Cherri's insistence that Al-Mahdi would appear soon that was instrumental in making him a more observant Muslim.271
Our reading of this so-called academic text uncovered no scientific presentation, but rather words and rumors amongst a Shi'ah community.
According to the statement that we have narrated in the beginning of chapter two, Al-Mahdi (as) did not mention any deadline for the end of his Occultation. Imam Sadiq (as) has also said:
Whoever sets any deadline for the end of the occultation is a liar, whoever sets any deadline for the end of the occultation is a liar, whoever sets any deadline for the end of the occultation is a liar.272
271. Walbridge, Linda, Without forgetting the Imam, p.165
272. Bihar al-Anwar, Vol.52, p.103
Adapted from the book: "The Awaited Saviour; Questions and Answers"
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