Rafed English

The Signs of Mahdi's Appearance

Engineer Madani: How reliable are the signs of the appearance of the Mahdi?

Mr. Hoshyar: There are numerous signs of the appearance of the Master of the Command (may God hasten deliverance through him!) mentioned in the books on hadith. We cannot undertake to discuss each one of them because we do not have that much time. It will require several sessions to cover even the most important of these. Nevertheless, some observations are in order, however brief.

(a) The hadith-reports coming from the ahl al-bayt have divided the signs of the appearance into two parts: first, those reports that mention the signs that will occur without any question and which are unconditional. These signs must occur prior to the appearance of the Mahdi. Second, those signs that are introduced without their being absolute occurrences. These are the events that are not in any way definitely the signs of the Imam's appearance; rather, they are conditional. If the conditions are fulfilled, so too will be the signs; and if the conditions are not fulfilled, so it is with the signs. It was because of some exigencies that they have been mentioned as part of the signs of the appearance.

(b) The signs of the appearance are those things without which the twelfth Imam will not appear. The fulfillment of each of these signs indicates that the days of restoration and deliverance are to some extent close by. However, this does not mean that after the signs are fulfilled, without any delay, the Imam will appear. In the case of some of these signs it is mentioned that proximate with their fulfillment, the Imam will appear.

(c) Some of the signs of the appearance will occur as a kind of miracle, so that the claim to Mahdiism is confirmed and the extraordinary situation of the world is conveyed to the people. The status of these signs is the same as with other miracles, which, even when they do go beyond the world of natural and normal phenomena, should not be regarded as unacceptable.

(d) There is a kind of sign that is mentioned in some books and which seems customarily improbable, such as the saying that when the Mahdi appears the sun will rise from the west, and that the solar eclipse will occur in the middle of the month of Ramadan, whereas the moon eclipse will occur towards the end of the same month. All rational people know that the occurrence of these signs means that the natural order will have fallen apart and that the solar system will have changed. It must be pointed out that the traditions that report such events at the End of Time are no more than 'single' (ahad) transmission. In other words, they do not generate certainty as to the substance that is being reported. If anyone probes into their chain of transmission (sanad), he may quickly discover that these were fabricated and circulated during the Umayyad and the 'Abbasid periods under their patronage. That period in history saw many individuals who claimed to be the awaited Mahdi and challenging the de facto governments by rallying the support of the people against the unjust rulers. Since the Umayyads and the 'Abbasids understood that it was not possible to falsify the traditions about the Mahdi that were reported uninterruptedly for several generations, they used a trick on the people to discourage them from revolting under 'Alawid leadership. Consequently, they fabricated and put into circulation traditions that carried impossible signs for the appearance of the Mahdi. In this way they sought to dissuade people from following the 'Alawids in their rebellion against the injustices of the ruling house. However, if these traditions are true, then there is nothing problematic in visualizing catastrophic events preceding the advent of the Mahdi to inform the people about the importance of the event, and to arouse in them a sense of urgency to work for the government of God on earth.

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

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