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The Mahdi from among the Descendants of the Prophet

Such hadith-reports are abundant. The main idea that runs through all of them suggests that the topic about the future coming of the Mahdi and Qa'im during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) was well known. In fact, the way these reports speak about the subject indicates that it was not something new which was being presented to the people. On the contrary, they relate the signs and characteristics of the person who would emerge as the Mahdi, as in the statement "the promised Mahdi will be among my descendants."

The following traditions reflect such a pattern in their presentation. It is reported from 'Ali b. Abi Talib who said :

I asked the Prophet: "Is Mahdi going to be among our own family or from some other?" He replied: "He will be among us. God will conclude His religion through him, just as He began it with us. It will be through us that people will find refuge from sedition, just as it was through us that they were saved from polytheism. Moreover, it will be through us that God will bring their hearts together in brotherhood following the animosity sown by the sedition, just as they were brought together in brotherhood in their religion after the animosity sown by polytheism."1

Abu Sa'id al-Khudari, a close associate of the Prophet says:

I heard the Prophet declare from the pulpit: "The Mahdi from among my descendants, from my family, will rise at the End of Time, while the heavens will pour rain and the earth will bring forth green grass for him. He will fill the earth with justice and equity as it is filled with tyranny and injustice."2

In another tradition from Umm Salma, the wife of the Prophet, there is even more specific information given to the community. The Prophet says: "Mahdi will be among my progeny, among the children of Fatima."3

On another occasion the Prophet said: The Qa'im will be among my descendants. His name will be my name and his patronymic will be my patronymic. His character will be like my own. He will call people to my custom and to the Book of God. Anyone who obeys him would be obeying me, and any one who turns away from him would be turning away from me. Anyone who denies his existence during his concealment would have denied me, and anyone who falsifies him would have falsified me. Anyone who confirms his existence would have confirmed my existence. As for those who are engaged in falsifying what I have said about him and thereby mislead my community, I will complain against them to God. "Those who do wrong shall surely know by what overturning they will be overturned." [28:228]4

Abu Ayyub Ansari says: I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) say: "I am the chief of the prophets and 'Ali is the chief of the legatees. My two grandsons are the best among the descendants. The infallible Imams will come forth from among us through Husayn. Moreover, the Mahdi of this community is among us." At that time an Arab stood up and asked: "O Prophet of God, how many Imams are there after you?" He replied: "Equal to the number of the apostles of Jesus and the chiefs of the Children of Israel."5

A tradition with similar information has been cited from Hudhayfa, another companion of the Prophet, who heard the Prophet declare: The Imams after me will be equal to the number of the tribal chiefs among the Children of Israel. Nine among them will be the descendants of Husayn. The Mahdi of this community is among us. Beware! Truth is with them and they are with truth. Thus be careful of the way you treat them after me.6

In still another tradition Sa'id b. Musayyib reports from 'Amr b. 'Uthman b. 'Affan, who said: We heard from the Prophet saying: "The Imams after me will be twelve in number, of whom nine will be from the progeny of Husayn. Moreover, the Mahdi of this community will be among us. Anyone who holds on to them after me holds on to the rope of God; and whoever abandons them has abandoned God."7

There are numerous hadith-reports of this kind in the sources which one can undertake to examine. The Sunni hadith on the Subject of the Mahdi Dr. Fahimi: Mr. Hoshyar! Our friends know it. But let me tell you that I follow the Sunni school of thought. Hence, the positive evaluation that you have of the Shi'i hadith-reports, I do not share. In all likelihood, extremist Shi'is, for whatever reasons, after having accepted the narratives about the Mahdiism, must have fabricated traditions in support of their views and ascribed them to the Prophet. The evidence for my contention is that the traditions about the Mahdi are recorded only in your Shi'i books. There is no trace of these in our authentic -- Sihah -- compilations. Yes, I am aware that there are some traditions on the subject in our less reliable compilations.8

Mr. Hoshyar: In spite of the most unfavorable conditions under the Umayyads and the `Abbasids, whose politics and oppressive governments did not allow the discussion or the spread of hadith about wilayat and imamat and the ahl al-bayt or their being recorded in the books of the hadith, your compilations of hadith are not completely void of any traditions on the subject of the Mahdi. If you are not tired I may cite some of them for you. Engineer Madani: Mr. Hoshyar! Please continue your conversation. Mr. Hoshyar: Dr. Fahimi! In your compilations, the Sihah, there are chapters devoted to the subject of the Mahdi in which traditions from the Prophet have been recorded. For example, the following: 'Abd Allah reports from the Prophet, who said: "The world will not come to pass until a man from among my family, whose name will be my name, rules over the Arabs." Tirmidhi has recorded this hadith in his Sahih9 and comments: "This hadith on the Mahdi is reliable, and has been related by 'Ali b. Abi Talib, Abu Sa'id, Umm Salma and Abu Hurayra": 'Ali b. Abi Talib has narrated from the Prophet, who said: "Even if there remains only a day on earth, God will bring forth a man from my progeny so that he will fill the earth with justice and equity as it is filled with tyranny."10

In another hadith Umm Salma narrates that she heard the Prophet say: "The promised Mahdi will be among my progeny, among the descendants of Fatima."11 Abu Sa'id al-Khudari says: The Prophet said: "Our Mahdi will have a broad forehead and a pointed nose. He will fill the earth with justice as it is filled with injustice and tyranny. He will rule for seven years."12 'Ali b. Abi Talib has related a tradition from the Prophet who informed him: The promised Mahdi will be among my family. God will make the provisions for his emergence within a single night.13

Abu Sa'id al-Khudari has related a tradition from the Prophet who declared: The earth will be filled with injustice and corruption. At that time, a man from among my progeny will rise and will rule for seven or nine years and will fill the earth with justice and equity.14 Greater detail is provided in another hadith reported by Abu Sa'id al-Khudari. In this tradition the Prophet said: Severe calamity from the direction of their ruler will befall my people during the Last Days. It will be a calamity which, in severity, shall be unprecedented. It will be so violent that the earth with injustice and corruption will shrivel for its inhabitants. The believers will not find refuge from oppression. At that time God will send a man from my family to fill the earth with justice and equity just as it is filled with injustice and tyranny. The dwellers of the heavens and the earth will be pleased with him. The earth will bring forth all that grows for him, and the heavens will pour down rains in abundance. He will live among the people for seven or nine years. From all the good that God will bestow on the inhabitants of the earth, the dead will wish to come to life again.15 There are numerous traditions that convey these meanings in your books. I believe we have cited enough reports to make our point. The Objection Raised by One of the Authors: Dr. Fahimi: The author of the book entitled: Al-Mahdiyya fi al-islam writes: Muhammad b. Isma'il Bukhari and Muslim b. Hajjaj Nishaburi, the compilers of the two most authentic books of the Sunni hadith, who recorded these traditions meticulously and with extreme caution in verifying their reliability, have not included traditions about the Mahdi in their Sihah. Rather, these traditions are part of the compilations of Sunan of Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i and Musnad of Ahmad b. Hanbal. These compilers were not careful in selecting traditions and their hadith-reports were regarded by scholars like Ibn Khaldun as weak and unacceptable.16 Ibn Khaldun and the Traditions about the Mahdi: Mr. Hoshyar: To elaborate on the topic of the reliability of the hadith on the Mahdi, let us cite Ibn Khaldun's opinion on the matter in full: It has been well known (and generally accepted) by all Muslims in every epoch, that at the end of time a man from the family (of the Prophet) will without fail make his appearance, strengthen Islam and make justice triumph. Muslims will follow him, and he will gain domination over the Muslim realm. He will be called the Mahdi ... . Such traditions have been found among the traditions that religious leaders have published. They have been critically discussed by those who disapprove of them and have been often refuted by means of certain traditions.17

1 Ibid., Vol. 51, p. 84; Ithbat al-hudat, Vol. 7, p. 191; Majma` al-zawa'id by `Ali b. Abi Bakr Haythami (Cairo edition), Vol. 7, p. 317.

2 Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 51, p. 74; Ithbat al-hudat, Vol. 7, p. 9.

3 Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 51, p. 75.

4 Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 51, p. 73.

5 Ithbat al-hudat, Vol. 2, p. 531.

6 Ibid., p. 533.

7 Ibid., p. 526.

8 Hasan, Sa`d Muhammad, al-Mahdiyya fi al-islam (Cairo, 1373), p. 69; Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddima (Cairo edition), p. 311.

9 Sahih, Vol. 9, p. 74; also, see: Shaykh Sulayman, Yanabi` al-mawadda (1308 AH edition), Vol. 2, p. 180; Muhammad b. Yusuf al-Shafi`i, al-Bayan fi akhbar sahib al-zaman (Najaf edition), p. 57; and other Sunni sources.

10 Abu Dawud, Sahih, Vol. 5/207; see also all the sources mentioned in note s 2. In addition, see: Shablanji, Nur al-absar, p. 156; Ibn Hajar, al-Sawa'iq al-muharriqah, p. 161; Ibn Sabbagh, Fusul al-muhimma, p. 275; al-Saban, As'af al-raghibin.

11 Abu Dawud, Sahih, Vol. 2, p. 207; Ibn Majah, Sahih, Vol. 2, p. 519, and the sources mentioned in note s 3.

12 Abu Dawud, Sahih, Vol. 2, p. 208; Fusul al-muhimma, p. 275; and numerous other Sunni sources.

13 Ibn Majah, Sahih, Vol. 2, p. 519. Also, Ibn Hajar, al-Sawa'iq al-muharriqa, p. 161.

14 Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, Vol. 3, p. 27.

15 Ibn Hajar, al-Sawa'iq al-muharriqa, p. 161; Yanabi' al-mawadda, Vol. 2, p. 177.

16 al-Mahdiyya fi al-islam, p. 69.

17 Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddimah, p. 311.

Adopted from the book : "Al-Imam al-Mahdi (a.s.); the Just Leader of Humanity" by : "Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini"

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