The Mahdi's Defense
Dr. Jalali: I have heard that the Imam of the Age will rise with a sword. This is something that does not seem to be right. The reason is that so far humankind has created and discovered various kinds of weapons to be used on the battlefields. Nuclear proliferation and weapons of mass destruction are recent additions to the array of weaponry in human arsenals. With the use of chemical and biological weapons, including remote detonation devices for binary weapons, thousands upon thousands of people can be destroyed in one blow. The question arises that with all these weapons existing now, how can one imagine that the Mahdi and his soldiers will be triumphant fighting with swords?
Mr. Hoshyar: Yes, indeed the subject of the Mahdi's rise with the sword is mentioned in the traditions. Let me cite some examples. Imam Baqir relates:
The Mahdi resembles his forefather, the Prophet, in that he too will rise with a sword to wipe out tyrants and those who mislead people, the enemy of God and the Prophet. He will attain victory by sword and scare, and none of his troops (lit. flags) will return [with a defeat].1
However, the rise with the "sword" is a metaphor for warfare. It indicates that war and bloodshed are part of the official task of the Mahdi. He is commanded by God to make Islam a universal faith and to confront injustice and tyranny, even by force and by means of a sword. His circumstance is contrary to his forefathers' careers, which did not require them to face the situation in that forceful manner, as their charge was limited to admonition and counsel. Consequently, "to rise with a sword" does not mean that his weapons of defense are limited to a sword, and that he is to restrain himself from using any other kind of weapons. To be sure, he too might employ the weapons of the day or even create new weapons to overpower all the known weaponry of his time.
The truth is that our knowledge about the future events of the world is limited; nor do we know in any detailed manner about the future destiny of humankind and the course of its technological enterprise. As such, we do not have the right to judge the future on the basis of the past without any evidence. We do not know which country or nation will have a technological and civilizational advantage and superiority over others. It is possible that the weak and divided nations of the Islamic world will wake up and put aside their minor differences to create the universal brotherhood under the mighty banner of tawhid, the Unity of God, and adopt and implement the Qur'anic guidance as the constitution of the universal Muslim nation. The united Islamic peoples could then utilize their natural resources to their advantage and come out of a self-cultivated laziness and self-imposed isolation to take up the challenge of becoming leaders of human civilization in sciences, industry, and ethics. They can bring under their control the unleashed and boundless energies of the east and the west in order to channel them into preparing for the final launching of the Mahdi's revolution. At that time the Mahdi can appear and destroy the unjust and tyrannical powers with the help of the mighty forces at his disposal. Furthermore, with divine assistance and promises of victory, in addition to the extraordinary energy that emanates from the position of the wilayat (the exercise of divinely-ordained sovereignty under the Imamate) he can lay the foundation of a just and equitable government of God on the earth.
At that moment the scientists and scholars whose research made possible the discovery of all the tools and technology will feel sadness and remorse because their discoveries had not been used for the betterment of human life but were instead employed to colonize and to suppress the peoples of the world. Hence, in order to give recompense for the abuse of their scientific contributions, they will see no other way but to respond to the call of the Mahdi to fight for justice and work for the good of the peoples of the world. We cannot foretell how people in the future will abandon their arrogance and stubbornness, come out from their ignorance and work towards the eradication of weapons of mass destruction and the decisive implementation of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. But all the wealth that is now being used to produce such weapons could then be diverted for the elimination of poverty, the advancement of education and the well being of humankind.
1 Ibid., Vol. 51, p. 218.
Adopted from the book : "Al-Imam al-Mahdi (a.s.); the Just Leader of Humanity" by : "Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini"
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