The Jurists of Medina and the Mahdi Traditions :
When Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah revolted one of the jurists of Medina by the name of Muhammad b. 'Ajlan also rose with him. After he was killed, Ja'far b. Sulayman, the governor of Medina, summoned Muhammad b. 'Ajlan and asked him: "Why did you rise with that liar?" He then ordered his hands to be cut. Other jurists who were present in the court at that time interceded on his behalf, emphasizing that Muhammad b. 'Ajlan was a pious jurist of Medina and had erroneously regarded Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah as the Mahdi promised in the traditions.
Another well-known jurist and a prominent scholar of the hadith, 'Abd Allah b. Ja'far also rose with Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah. When the latter was killed he fled from Medina and remained in hiding until he was granted amnesty. One day the governor of Medina passed by him and asked him the reason why he arose with Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah, in spite of his learning in the law and traditions. He replied: "The reason I supported and cooperated with him was that I was confident that he was the promised Mahdi, about whom we have been informed in the traditions. I did not doubt Muhammad's Mahdiism until I saw him killed. At that time I knew he was not the Mahdi. I will not fall into anyone else's hoax from now on."
From such accounts it is evident that the subject of the Mahdiism was widespread from those early days of Islam, close to the period of the Prophet. It was accepted as an absolute religious truth and people were awaiting the Mahdi. It was for this reason that the common people, who knew little about the signs for the appearance of the Mahdi and who were downtrodden, believed that Muhammad b. Hanafiyya and Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah and other pretenders were the promised Mahdi. However, the scholars and those who were well informed about the ahl al-bayt, including Muhammad's own father, knew that he was not the promised Mahdi. A man came to see 'Abd Allah b. Hasan and asked him when his son Muhammad would rise. He replied: "As long as I have not been killed, he will not rise." The man sighed and said: "From God we originate and to God we shall return. If Muhammad is killed, the umma will collapse." 'Abd Allah said to him: "That is not the case." The man continued and asked when would Ibrahim rise. He said: "As long as I am not destroyed, he will not rise. He too will be killed." Once again the man uttered the same verse and declared that the community had indeed undertaken the path of destruction. 'Abd Allah replied: "That is not so. Actually their master, the promised Mahdi, is twenty five years old. And at the time that he rises he will kill all the enemies." When Marwan was told that Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah had revolted, he said: "Neither he nor any other person sharing his father's genealogy is the promised Mahdi. Rather, he will be the son of a slave girl." Whenever the Imam Ja'far Sadiq would see Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah he would cry and say: "May my life be a sacrifice for him. People are speculating that he is the promised Mahdi. On the contrary he will be killed. Indeed, his name is not mentioned among the caliphs of this community in the book of 'Ali."
A group of people were sitting around Muhammad b. 'Abd Allah when the Imam Sadiq entered the place. Everyone stood up in respect. He inquired about the affairs and they replied that they had decided to pay allegiance to Muhammad who was the Mahdi. The Imam said: "I advise you to desist from doing so, because the time for the rise of the Mahdi has not approached yet. Moreover, Muhammad is not the Mahdi."
The Poetry of Di'bil and the Mahdi: When Di'bil b. 'Ali al-Khuza'i presented his famous lines in the presence of Imam Rida, he ended his poem with the following lines: No doubt an Imam will rise -- an Imam who will govern according to the name of God and the [divine] blessing. These lines underscore the certainty with which Di'bil mentioned the rising of the Imam who will rule in the name of God and with God's blessings. On hearing this, Imam Rida wept and said: "The blessed angel has put these words in your mouth. Do you know this Imam?" Di'bil said: "No. But I have heard that an Imam among you will rise and will fill the earth with justice and equity." Imam Rida said: "After me my son Muhammad will be the Imam; following him his son 'Ali will be the Imam; and after 'Ali his son Hasan will be the Imam. Following Hasan his son will the Proof of God and the Qa'im, who should be awaited while he is in occultation. And when he appears he should be obeyed. He is the one who will fill this earth with justice and equity. But the time of his emergence has not been fixed. However, it has been reported by my ancestors that he would appear all of a sudden and in a flash of a moment."1
There are numerous such reports in the historical sources which, if you wish, you can investigate.
1 Yanabi' al-mawadda, Vol. 2, p. 197.
Adopted from the book : "Al-Imam al-Mahdi (a.s.); the Just Leader of Humanity" by : "Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini"
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