Category Archives: Imam Mahdi

The Critique of Criticism: Analysis of Ibn Khaldun’s Objections to the Narrations about al-Mahdi

Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi*[1]
Translated and Annotated by Waqar Akbar Cheema

Abstract

Belief in the advent of Imam al-Mahdi is an important tenet for the vast majority of Muslims across sectarian lines. However, some have come to question the decisiveness of the hadiths concerning the advent of al-Mahdi, especially based on Ibn Khaldun’s arguments in his Muqaddimah. The current work is a translation of Maulana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi’s masterful refutation of Ibn Khaldun titled ‘Removing the Doubts of Ibn Khaldun’. Maulana Thanwi demonstrates that the belief in al-Mahdi is proven through an early consensus, that the narrations regarding him are numerous to the point of continuity [tawatur], and lays bare to the reader the underlying weakness of the arguments against Imam al-Mahdi’s advent. The translation of the work is further supplemented by the translator’s research on the narrations discussed in the work and the concomitant analysis, which are presented to the reader as footnotes.

1. Introduction

In his Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun has quoted the arguments of those who deny the advent of al-Mahdi. He also appears to be inclined to the same view and has, therefore, quoted those arguments rather assertively. Even though the author is not an authority in hadith sciences,[2]it was feared that some simpleton may fall for his arguments. Therefore, it was considered important to pen down some points as a cogent response to the immature doubt-raising questions.[3]

2. The Advent of al-Mahdi is Proven through Consensus [Ijma’]

Highlighting criticism on some of the narrators of the reports about al-Mahdi, Ibn Khaldun has raised the question that one might say such doubts can be raised about the narrators of the two Sahihs[4] as well. He then answers the question that even though there can be doubts of similar nature about the narrators of the two Sahihs as well but they are not taken into account because these two Sahihs have been well received and there is consensus on this point and, therefore, those doubts do not affect the authenticity [of the reports in the two Sahihs]. This tells us of a principle accepted by Ibn Khaldun that in matters where general consensus is reached, faults with the narrators are not harmful. Here we say that just as there is general consensus on the acceptability of the two Sahihs, the narrations about the advent of al-Mahdi are also [accepted] by consensus. Just as the opinion of some who question the acceptability of the two Sahihs is not considered to nullify the consensus, the words of antagonists will not affect the consensus about al-Mahdi.[5] This is because consensus only means a general consensus and the view of a few antagonists is not given any consideration. In both cases consensus is of equal degree. Therefore, none of the reliable scholars and hadith authorities has gone against this consensus. In fact, as stated by Ibn Khaldun himself, “al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, al-Bazzar, Ibn Majah, al-Hakim, al-Tabarani and Abu Ya’la al-Mawsili”[6]have mentioned these traditions on the authority of a number of Companions including 1) ‘Ali, 2) Ibn ‘Abbas, 3) Ibn ‘Umar, 4) Talhah, 5) Ibn Mas’ud, 6) Abu Hurayrah, 7) Anas, 8) Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, 9) Umm Habibah, 10) Umm Salamah, 11) Thawban, [12) Qurrah b. Iyas, 13) ‘Ali al-Hilali and 14) ‘Abdullah b. Harith b. Jaz] among others[7]through different chains of transmitters. Therefore, just as faults with certain narrators in the two Sahihs do not have any effect on the consensus about their reliability, similarly faults with some of the transmitters of the reports about al-Mahdi do not affect the consensus regarding his awaited advent. In fact, the consensus about al-Mahdi is more worthy of acceptance than the consensus on the acceptability of the two Sahihs because it [the former] is built upon reported text whereas the consensus about the two Sahihs is based on opinion, as the author accepted the two Sahihs as evidence for his opinion [without any text supporting it]. In fact, on the question at hand even if the authority of consensus was not known it would still have been based on text [nass] as its subject matter cannot be ascertained through mere opinion [rai]. In this case, however, the authority of consensus is actually known. Moreover, whereas the knowledge of the chain of authorities for the point of consensus is not even essential to support the word of the erudite scholars, its knowledge, albeit through weaker links, will add to and strengthen the consensus. That there is no report about al-Mahdi in the two Sahihs does not impugn the general consensus for two reasons. Firstly, because it is incorrect to say that there is no such tradition in the two Sahihs. In fact, it is there in Sahih Muslim even though it is not categorical,[8] but the equivocal [mubham] shall be viewed in the light of the unequivocal [mufassar] as explained in the following lines. Therefore, even the two Sahihs are not without narrations on the subject. Secondly, as clarified by the masters of hadith sciences [muhaddithin] and juristic theory [usuliyin], consensus does not require positive evidence from all individually; rather, publishing of the opinion of one and the absence of criticism by others is enough to prove it. Thus, as long as there is no proof of al-Bukhari’s and Muslim’s denial of this narration, it [the lack of positive evidence] does not impugn the consensus.[9] Furthermore, the narrations on the subject were well known even before al-Bukhari and Muslim and no one denied it. Thus, the consensus was [already] reached and the dissent of certain later people does not nullify the consensus of the earlier generations. For this reason, the fact that there is general consensus on the advent of al-Mahdi has been acknowledged by the author as well. He writes, “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 . . .”[10]

3. The Narrations of al-Mahdi are Mutawatir

Though the scholars of hadith have differed about the specification of hadith as continuous [mutawatir], well-established authorities have clarified that if the hadith works are carefully traced, a [large] number of reports would be found reaching the degree of continuity [tawatur].[11] Therefore, it is evident that the number of narrations about al-Mahdi are so numerous that they certainly reach this degree like many other narrations.  As indicated under heading 2, the narrators of this tradition at each step are so many that together these individual chains of the authorities can be graded as continuous. It is established that for continuous reports the reliability of [all] the narrators is not required. What effect, therefore, will the weak and contentious criticism have in the context where even strong criticism does no harm?

4. Criticism of Hadiths about al-Mahdi is Disputed

Ibn Khaldun has himself quoted from other hadith authorities the reliability of most of the narrators who have been criticized. The criticism, therefore, is disputed and for this reason before quoting negative criticism Ibn Khaldun has highlighted the principle of negative criticism taking precedence over positive criticism.[12] Firstly, this principle itself is presumptive [zanni]. Secondly, it is subject to much discussion. Thirdly, reliability is [established] a priori for a Muslim [especially of the first three generations] and by dint of the principle ‘certainty is not undone by doubt’ there is room for giving precedence to positive criticism over negative criticism where most of the negative criticism is disputed as stated by the author himself.  Fourthly, this negative criticism can be harmful only when supported by continuity or consensus which is not the case here.

5. Weakness, if any, is Compensated by Multiplicity of Narrations

As stated by the hadith scholars, the weakness of a report is compensated by a multiplicity of chains of authorities. So when the agreed-upon weakness is compensated for in this manner, why would the differed-upon weakness not be compensated for, especially when the multiplicity [of chains] can be considered as reaching the degree of continuity [tawatur] as mentioned above?

6. Consensus was Reached Before the Criticized Narrators

As per the pronouncement of the scholars, a mujtahid’s invoking a narration as proof is considered his authentication of it[13] and the weakness of later narrators does not call into question the earlier scholars’ reliance [ihtijaj] upon the narration.[14]Therefore, when the scholars preceding the impugned narrators believed in this prophecy, they [by implication] attested to the reliability of the traditions on the subject, and the weaknesses that crept into the chain at a later point in time does not affect their presenting evidence with the traditions. As for later scholars taking the tradition as authentic on the authority of predecessors [salaf], its continuity to them is like the suspended reports [ta’liqāt] of al-Bukhari. When al-Bukhari brings a narration without a chain of narrators where he [is known to have] ensured its authenticity, its chain of narrators is not [ordinarily] searched for and his authentication is relied upon.  However, it is confirmed that al-Bukhari has actually quoted it. We have proved that if authentication is attributed to the earliest generations then the evidence of the later generations is also verified.

7. Ibn Khaldun did not Prove the Weakness of all the Narrations

7.1 Narrations Explicitly Mentioning the Name al-Mahdi

The author has failed to criticize certain hadiths which explicitly mention the name al-Mahdi.[15] He has brought al-Hakim’s narration[16]through Sulayman bin ‘Ubayd and quoted al-Hakim’s saying, “it is a sound one as far as its chain of transmitters is concerned, though neither [al-Bukhari nor Muslim] published it.”[17] His subsequent statement that “none of the authors of the six authoritative collections of traditions published a tradition of Sulayman bin ‘Ubayd” is not harmful to the cause as no one has ever mentioned that this is a cause of a narrator’s weakness. For this reason even the author was not content at this and added, “However, Ibn Hibban mentioned him in al-Thiqat and we have seen nobody who discussed him adversely.”[18]

Discussing another hadith[19], he has quoted the words of al-Hakim “this is a sound tradition according to the conditions laid down by Bukhari and Muslim” and has proven that it is not per the conditions of Bukhari and accepted that “it is sound only according to the conditions laid down by Muslim” for its chain has narrators from whom al-Bukhari has not narrated though Muslim has. As regards the observation about the pro-Shi’a sentiments of ‘Ammar al-Duhni it does no harm after accepting that he is a narrator in [Sahih] Muslim and the narrations of Muslim are sound. It is obvious that the reliability of Muslim’s narrations cannot be merely for the fact that he is Imam Muslim, rather it is due to the fact of his being a great critic who does not transmit from weak narrators. Therefore, his narration on the authority of ‘Ammar al-Duhni shows he does not consider criticism against him enough to impugn the soundness of the hadith.[20] This is due to the fact that on the question of reliability it is the truthfulness and retention that matters [more than doctrinal inclination].[21] Most critics narrated the hadith upon satisfaction on these two accounts. Thus, ‘Ammar’s being a narrator with Imam Muslim is enough for the soundness of the hadith.

7.2 Reports that do not Mention the Name al-Mahdi

And some hadith reports [that Ibn Khaldun did not show as weak] do not explicitly mention the name al-Mahdi like al-Hakim’s narration through ‘Awf [bin Abi Jamilah al-‘Arābi] for which he quoted al-Hakim’s words, “it is sound according to the conditions laid down by al-Bukhari and Muslim, though neither of them published it.[22]

He has also quoted a narration of al-Tabarani[23] without mentioning any fault with it. As regards the statement of al-Tabarani, “it was transmitted by a number of persons on the authority of Abu al-Siddiq. None of them inserted another transmitter between him and Abu Sa’id except Abu al-Wasil. He transmitted it on the authority of al-Hasan bin Yazid, on the authority of Abu Sa’id,” it is not harmful because according to the hadith scholars addition of a reliable transmitter is acceptable. It is addition, not a contradiction, because in other narrations Abu al-Siddiq reports on the authority of Abu Sa’id without mentioning the manner of transmission. Therefore, other chains of transmitters do not contradict this. What harm does it do when it is simply an addition and the narrator is trustworthy? It may be argued that the author has quoted from al-Dhahabi that al-Hasan bin Yazid is little known [majhul]. This is vague [mubham] negative criticism and it is overruled by positive criticism which is quoted immediately next to it by the author, “he was mentioned by Ibn Hibban in al-Thiqat.[24] It is like Abu Hanifa’s criticism on Zayd bin ‘Ayyash, a narrator of hadith about the sale of wet dates, that he is little known [majhul] and all other hadith scholars responded that Zayd is so-and-so and if Abu Hanifa did not know him, others did. If it may be argued that about the transmitter of the hadith, Abu al-Wasil, the author has mentioned, “no tradition of Abu al-Wasil was published by any of the six authors of the authoritative collections” then the objection has already been answered. Further, the author himself writes, “He was mentioned by Ibn Hibban in al-Thiqat in the second category and Ibn Hibban said regarding him, ‘he transmitted traditions on the authority of Anas, whereas Shu’bah and ‘Attab bin Bashir transmitted traditions on his authority.’”[25] When Shu’bah – ‘the leader of the faithful in Hadith’ – narrates from him, the six authoritative works not having reports from him is irrelevant.

7.3 Hadith Reports from Sahih Muslim

The author, Ibn Khaldun, also mentions a couple of reports from Sahih Muslim.[26] There is another hadith in Sahih Muslim that he did not quote. It says, [Jabir bin ‘Abdullah said: I heard the Prophet say:] “. . . ‘Isa bin Maryam will descend and their leader will say: ‘Come and lead us in prayer,’ but he will say: ‘No, you are leaders of one another,’ as an honor from Allah to this Ummah.”[27]These narrations are reliable according to the author as well. This is the reason that after criticizing various hadiths he had to make the exception, “these are all the traditions published by the religious authorities concerning al-Mahdi and his appearance at the end of time. One has seen what they are like. Very few are above criticism.[28] Firstly, to say that the authentic hadiths are only a few is not true. The number of traditions reported by the author are five to six hundred and calling that ‘a few’ is not justified. This is known to the experts of hadith. Moreover, even if this claim is accepted, it does not call into question the issue of al-Mahdi since solitary reports are also a proof in shariah especially for issues whose denial [inkar] is just an innovation [bid’ah] [and] not outright disbelief [kufr]. The issue of the advent of al-Mahdi is from this category. It is practically like a well-reported thing as it is supported by a number of other factors already mentioned. One may argue that regarding these traditions [from Sahih Muslim] the author said, “[Muslim’s] traditions do not mention al-Mahdi, and there is no evidence in them to show that al-Mahdi is meant in them.[29] The response to this objection is that an absence of explicit mention of the name of al-Mahdi is not a problem.

7.4 Unequivocal Narrations Explain the Equivocal

The author’s argument is “there is no evidence that al-Mahdi is meant in them” but if an evidence is produced his argument will be nullified. It is thus submitted that hadith scholars are nearly unanimous that if one text or chain of authorities of one hadith is equivocal [mubham] and that of another are unequivocal [mufassar] and there is reasonable evidence to prove the connection between the two, the equivocal shall be understood in the light of the unequivocal. Besides the hadith scholars, the author himself has accepted this principle. At one place in the discussion, the chain of authorities of a hadith from Sunan Abu Dawud quoted by the author is, “Abu al-Khalil Salih, on the authority of one of his colleagues, on the authority of Umm Salamah . . . ,”[30] and just after a few lines he quotes the hadith with another chain, Abu al-Khalil on the authority of Abdullah bin al-Harith, on the authority of Umm Salamah.”[31] At this point the author says, “This clears up the identity of the transmitter, whose name was not mentioned in the first chain of transmitters.” (Then the author says, “The transmitters in it are the transmitters of the two Sahihs. One could not attack them or find fault with them,” though then he raised two objections; firstly, Qatadah is said to be mudallis[32], which the author himself says in a doubtful tone [sighah al-tamridh] and secondly the very objection we are answering here that it does not mention the name of al-Mahdi. Anyhow, it is only as a parenthetical note and is not directly related to the point at hand). This clarity brought about by the second chain shows that the ambiguous shall be interpreted according to the elaborate, otherwise one could say that in the first chain there is no mention of the name of the companion [of Abu al-Khalil] [so] how could it be known. In short, it is established from the hadith scholars, and the author has himself accepted and acknowledged this principle. Upon comparison, the proximity between the chains of the transmitters and the contents of the reports that explicitly mention the name of al-Mahdi and those that do not will make it evident to every reasonable person that they refer to the same person.

The fact that all the hadith scholars have placed these vague traditions [not mentioning the name of al-Mahdi] in the chapters concerning al-Mahdi is a categorical proof for this. The author has himself quoted the saying of some hadith scholar, “it has been said that al-Tirmidhi’s tradition is an interpretation of the traditions transmitted by Muslim in the Sahih.”[33] As for his mentioning it with a weak expression it does not undermine our objective for we are not for deriving any conclusions from the author’s statement; rather our objective is to show the position of the hadith scholars. The way this principle is supported by the author’s own words has been mentioned already. It is, therefore, conclusively proven that the reports unequivocally mentioning the name al-Mahdi and the reports not mentioning it are one in their origins. That the name is not mentioned in some reports has no adverse effect on our conclusion and seeking far-fetched meanings does not deserve serious attention. The reason they do not deserve any serious attention is that they are not supported by evidence, in fact, some of them have implications against the evidence and are, therefore, null and void. Secondly, even to the oblivion of these unclear hadiths not mentioning the name al-Mahdi, the narrations with explicit mention are enough because, as already indicated, in such matters even solitary reports are an evidence especially when they are supported by numerous strong corroborations as has been repeatedly stated.

The example of the principle of using the unequivocal to understand the equivocal is like a person who says, ‘a person with such and such qualities visited me today’ and then says, ‘Today Zaid who has such and such qualities visited me’ and mentions the same qualities. Everyone will understand that the unknown person in the first statement was Zaid.

8. Authenticity and Meaning of the Hadith, “There is no Mahdi except ‘Isa”

Some deniers of al-Mahdi have sought evidence with the tradition, “There is no Mahdi except ‘Isa bin Maryam” [لا مهدي إلا عيسى بن مريم], however, this evidence is not solid, firstly, because, as acknowledged by Ibn Khaldun, the tradition is weak and perplexed.[34]Secondly, it is open to interpretation. In fact, due to the established authority of reports about al-Mahdi, most certainly it has to be interpreted away from its apparent meaning because the characteristics of al-Mahdi mentioned in the hadith prove the difference between al-Mahdi and ‘Isa. Thus, when the apparent meanings are not possible, it must be interpreted figuratively. As for its various interpretations, some said it is related to the cradle [mahd] as quoted by the author, though he has shown its weakness as well by contrasting it to the hadith about al-Juraij.[35] However, if it is considered specific to the Prophets alone, the author’s objection can be answered. Some understood the word ‘mahdi’ rather literally [i.e. guided one], and by the rule that when the absolute is referred to absolutely it implies perfection [المطلق اذا اطلق يراد به الفرد الكامل] only a Prophet can be the perfectly guided one. The implication, thus, would be ‘there is no one perfectly guided [mahdi al-kamil] after me except ‘Isa.’ To elaborate, with his saying “There is no prophet after me”, the Prophet announced that there would not be any prophet after him. This general statement implied that after him there would be no prophet, neither in independent capacity nor as his follower. So he denied this notion and said “‘Isa would come as my follower”, and since in the independent capacity the role of the guide [hadi] is more evident in a Prophet, and as a follower the characteristic of being a guided one [mahdi], so much so that his role as the guide springs from his being the guided one himself. In this sense ‘Isa has been termed as mahdi. In other words, it means as a follower only ‘Isa would come as a prophet after him. The third interpretation, which is the easiest, simplest and closest to the wording of the narration, this author [i.e. Maulana Thanwi] writes through an inspiration from Allah with the confidence that this is the actual meaning of the hadith: this scheme of words is used to denote unity and proximity between two things. As such, it means al-Mahdi and ‘Isa are one, where al-Mahdi is the subject and ‘Isa is the object. Unity and proximity with regards to the object is at times real and at times figurative. For instance, when two things are in chronological proximity and one of them is a sign of the other they are considered subject and object with regards to the time factor as in the following hadith:

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «عمران بيت المقدس خراب يثرب، وخراب يثرب خروج الملحمة، وخروج الملحمة فتح قسطنطينية، وفتح القسطنطينية خروج الدجال»

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: The flourishing of the state of Jerusalem [will be at the time of] the destruction of Yathrib, the destruction of Yathrib [will be at the outbreak of] the Great War, the outbreak of the great war [will be at] the conquest of Constantinople, and the conquest of Constantinople [will be when] the Dajjal [Antichrist] comes forth.[36]

In this hadith there are four issues where the object relates to the subject in the same sense [of cause and effect]. If this is understood, the meanings of “‘Isa bin Maryam is Mahdi” become crystal clear that the descent of ‘Isa will follow the advent of al-Mahdi. Therefore, the proximity of time brought about the figurative unity of the two. Anyway, the evidence of the deniers of al-Mahdi is rendered null and void.

9. Al-Mahdi and the Sayings of the Sufis

Thereafter, the author has mentioned the opinions of the Sufis [mystics] on the subject and criticized it. But it is also not harmful to the case because it rests on authentic hadiths, not mystic unveiling [kashf]. However, unveiling leads to peace of mind, and though it is not a shariah evidence, the shariah has not rejected it either. In fact the shariah sources prove it. This is the reason dreams which are lesser than unveiling [in terms of bringing about peace of heart and mind] have been mentioned in the authentic hadith reports in the same vein. Regarding Laylatul Qadr, it has been said, “it seems that all of your dreams agree that [the Night of Qadr] is in the last seven nights,[37] and concerning Azan it has been stated in a hadith, “this is a true dream.[38]Another hadith says, “[good] dreams are from Allah,[39] and “nothing has been left out of the Prophethood except dreams with glad tidings[40], and [there are] other reports. When the weak has a standing why would the strong not have a standing? Further, unveiling [kashf] is explicitly proven from the hadith. For ‘Umar to be pronounced as ‘one spoken to’ [muhaddath] is a proof for this. Moreover, it is reliably reported that the Companions and many pious people gave information through unveiling. And its turning out exactly like that is proven through continuous [mutawatir] reports, so how can it be denied? However, an unveiling that contradicts any shariah precept is either to be rejected or requires an interpretation. Otherwise, it is valid in its own right and if it goes with the hadiths and corroborates them, its approval is beyond question. Further, if it mentions something not stated in the hadith it cannot be reasonably termed as a contradiction nor does it impugn that entire unveiling. An example is what the author has quoted from Ibn al-‘Arabi who said, “his appearance will take place when kh-f-j years have passed after the Hijrah” and then explained it saying:

He wrote down three letters. He meant their numerical value, kh being 600, f 80, and j 3. This makes 683 years, or the end of the seventh century.[41]

After interpreting it this way Ibn Khaldun objects, “this time passed and al-Mahdi did not appear.”  One principal response has already been given that a secondary aspect going wrong does not call into question the real point of the unveiling [kashf]. Secondly, this objection is on the stated interpretation which is not certain because it is only a view of Ibn Khaldun. It is possible that Ibn al-‘Arabi had used it in some other way. In fact it is quite probable approaching certainty, as this scribe [i.e. Thanwi] saw a treatise based on unveilings titled “al-Shajrah al-Nu’maniyyah”[42] in Makkah. It has a number of prophecies, some of which has actually come to pass and the commentators have explained it not according to the numerical values but in some other way which this scribe could not ascertain despite much brainstorming. And strangely the employed idiom is not even consistent, rather it varies at every instance because their [the mystics’] intent was to keep these things hidden. Therefore, they have employed different symbolism. And then fearing that someone may understand they strongly implored the reader that he must not pronounce even if he ever understands. Interestingly, even the commentators who have solved the symbolism have done so in code words of their own and then in turn they made similar imploration. In this backdrop how is it possible that Ibn al-‘Arabi meant the alphabetic [abjad] values because these values are so well known that even the children know them. How then was keeping it secret possible and what was the utility of all the imploring if it was something understandable to even the masses? In fact, strong imploration testifies that the intent of Ibn al-‘Arabi was to keep it secret and therefore encoding it with such a well-known method would have defeated his very purpose. Using the same logic Ibn Khaldun has himself criticized those who try to find the buried treasures using symbols:

Buried treasures (rikaz), such as are mentioned in the Prophetic traditions and such as the jurists assume to exist – that is, buried in pre-Islamic times – are found by chance, not by systematic search. Furthermore, why should anyone who hoards his money and seals it with magical operations, thus making extraordinary efforts to keep it concealed, set up hints and clues as to how it may be found by anyone who cares to? Why make a written list of it, so that the people of any period and region could find his treasure? This would contradict the intention of keeping it concealed.[43]

Thus, the encryption involved is unknown and without knowing the encryption rule how can any interpretation be made. Elsewhere [in the same book], Ibn Khaldun writes: “because only previously known or established rules can lead to the decipherment of such puzzles.[44]Therefore, when the authenticity of the author’s interpretation [of Ibn al-‘Arabi’s words] is not proven, rather it is proven otherwise by the arguments above, the objection itself is rendered null and void. Whereas, the validity of unveiling [kashf] is proven by hadith and the author himself acknowledges it elsewhere in the same book.

It is well known that (supernatural perception) occurs among the (Sufis). They call their supernatural experiences and mind reading “physiognomy” (firasah) and “removal” (of the veil of sense perception, kashf). Their experiences of supernatural activity they call “acts of divine grace” (karamah). None of these things is unworthy of them. [45]

Once its validity is also acknowledged [along with the weakness of the objection raised] all the questions are rendered null and void.

.

References and Notes:


[1]The original title of the treatise is مؤخرة الظنون عن ابن خلدون (Removing the Doubts of Ibn Khaldun). It is included in Imdad al-Fatawa, Karachi: Maktaba Darul ‘Uloom, 2010 Vol.6, 247-256

“Maulana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanwi – referred to as Mujaddid al-Millat (the Renewer of the Community) and Hakim al-Ummat (Physician of the Community) – is arguably the most famous graduate of Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband. . . . He was one of the most prolific writers in the history of Islam and wrote books on practically all of the Islamic disciplines. . . . He died in 1362/1943.” See, Taqi Usmani, Muhammad, The Great Scholars of the Deoband Islamic Seminary, London: Turath Publishing, 2013, p40.

[2] Shaykh Ahmad Shakir (1377/1958) writes:

أما ابن خلدون، فقد قفا ما ليس له به علم، واقتحم قُحَما لم يكن من رجالها، وغلبه ما شغله من السياسة وأمور الدولة، وخدمة من كان يخدم من الملوك والأمراء، فأوهم أن شأن المهدي عقيدة شيعية، أو أوهمته نفسه ذلك

 “As for Ibn Khaldun, he went after what he had no knowledge of. Without consideration he plunged into matters he was not expert at. He was rather occupied by affairs of politics and statecraft, and serving the courtiers of the kings and ministers. They made him to fall for the idea that al-Mahdi is the belief of the Shi’ites [alone], or he fell into this inadvertence himself . . .” See, Musnad Ahmad, Cairo: Dar al-Hadith, 1995, Vol.3, 492, Hadith 3571.

[3] Maulana Thanwi was not the only one to refute Ibn Khaldun’s objections. Sh. Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Siddiq al-Ghumari (d. 1380/1960) produced a dedicated treatise on the subject, Ibraz al-Wahm al-Maknun min Kalam Ibn Khaldun (Exposition of Hidden Defects in Ibn Khaldun’s Arguments [about al-Mahdi]), and many others including Ahmad Shakir, al-Albani, and ‘Abdul Rahman al-Mubarakpuri have commented on Ibn Khaldun’s arguments discussing the various narrations about al-Mahdi.

[4] i.e., Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim

[5] Also see, Al-Ghumari, Ahmad bin Muhammad al-Siddiq, Ibraz al-Wahm al-Maknun min Kalam Ibn Khaldun, Damascus, Matb’ah al-Tarqi, 1347 AH, 446-447. The copy I have starts the page numbering from 432. Perhaps it was originally a part of some larger collection.

[6] Ibn Khaldun failed to mention Ahmad, al-Dani, al-Daraqutni, al-Harith bin Abi Usamah, Abu Nu’aym, al-Khatib, and Ibn al-Asakir who have also narrated hadith reports about al-Mahdi in their well-known works. In fact, Muslim has also narrated reports about al-Mahdi, though without the mention of the name. (See notes 26 and 27 below)

[7] This is by no means an exhaustive list of Companion narrators of the reports about al-Mahdi. Among others who narrated are 15) Jabir bin Abdullah (see note 27), 16) Huzayfah bin al-Yaman, 17) Uthman, 18) Abu Umamah, 19) ‘Ammar bin Yasir, 20) Jabir bin Majid, 21) ‘Abdul Rahman bin ‘Awf, 22) ‘Imran bin Husain, 23) Hussain bin ‘Ali, 24) Tamim al-Dari, 25) ‘Amr bin Marrah al-Juhni, and 26) Ma’az bin Jabal. See al-Kattani’s Nazam al-Mutanathir min al-Hadith al-Mutawatir, Cairo: Dar al-Kutab al-Salafiyya, 225-6, and Ibraz al-Wahm, 437-438. In total, therefore, we have the names of 26 Companions who narrated from the Prophet on the issue. The number of reports from the Companions and the Followers (tabi’in) is very large.

[8] See section 7.3 below

[9] As a matter of fact, al-Bukhari did narrate reports about al-Mahdi though not in al-Sahih but in another work. In his Tarikh al-Kabir he has mentioned two reports on the subject; one from the Prophet reported by Umm Salamah and other from Sa’id bin al-Musayyib. See Tarikh al-Kabir, vol.3, 346 and vol.8, 406

[10] Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah, Trans. Franz Rosenthal, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1980, Vol.2, 156. All the references to Muqaddimah are from the 1980 reprint of the translation. The translation has been emended at times for the purpose of maintaining flow and clarity.

The Inconsistency of Ghamidi School of Modernism:

This confession by Ibn Khaldun highlights the inconsistency of the modernists on the scale of Ghamidi who on the one hand say “sunnah” is something transmitted continuously from generation to generation and is as such in no need of specific narrations and on the other refer to Ibn Khaldun’s criticism of the narrations about al-Mahdi. If this statement is true and there is no evidence to doubt it then these modernists should not have any interest in the authenticity of these narrations. Moreover, it also strikes at the roots of the attempt to interpret the selected narrations on the subject to mean ‘Umar bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz. A separate paper analyzing such an interpretation is forthcoming.

[11] A number of scholars have clarified this and some have produced dedicated works on the subject to show the continuity (tawatur) of the hadiths on the subject. These include Abu al-Hasan al-Abri, al-Qurtubi, al-Sakhawi, al-Suyuti, Ibn Hajar al-Haithami, al-Zarqani, al-Qanuji, al-Shawkani, etc.  (See, al-Ghumari, Ibraz al-Wahm, 433-434)

[12] This principle, though true, is neither absolute nor unrestricted. There are many conditions attached. Gradation of a narrator as reliable is accepted without looking for any details, but negative criticism has to be elaborate making the reason for weakening of the narrator clear. Even in the two Sahihs there are narrations from narrators who have been criticized by some but for invalid reasons or without due explanation. See, al-Ghumari, Ibraz al-Wahm, 459-466.

For further details and scholarly references see ‘Uthmani, Zafar Ahmad, Qawa’id fi ‘Ulum al-Hadith, Ed. Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah, Karachi: Idarah al-Qur’an wa ‘Ulum al-Islamiyyah, n.d., 167-175.

[13] ‘Uthmani, Zafar Ahmad, Qawa’id fi ‘Ulum al-Hadith. Ed. Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah. Karachi: Idarah al-Qur’an wa ‘Ulum al-Islamiyyah, n.d. 57-59

[14] Defending the early luminaries of the ummah, Ibn Taymiyya writes:

بل الذين كانوا قبل جمع هذه الدواوين كانوا أعلم بالسنة من المتأخرين بكثير؛ لأن كثيرا مما بلغهم وصح عندهم قد لا يبلغنا إلا عن مجهول؛ أو بإسناد منقطع؛ أو لا يبلغنا بالكلية, فكانت دواوينهم صدورهم التي تحوي أضعاف ما في الدواوين, وهذا أمر لا يشك فيه من علم القضية

In fact, those  who  came  before  the emergence of these  hadith collections  were by far more knowledgeable in  the  Sunnah  than  those  who came after  them.  This  is  because a large  part of the  Sunnah that  had  reached them  and  had been authenticated by them might not  have  reached  us except through unknown  transmitters  or a  severed  chain  of  narration,  or might not have  reached  us  at all. Thus, it  can  be  said  that  their  “hadith compilations” were preserved in  their hearts, which  contained  several  times  as  much  as that which  is  found  in  the physical collections,  and the  one  who  is  well-versed in this  issue  will have  no doubts  about  this [point].
(al-Harrani, Ibn Taymiyya, Raf’ al-Malam an  al-A’immah  al-A’lam. Trans. by Abdul Hakim al-Matroudi as “Removal of the Blame from the Great Imams”, Insight, p.335)

[15] Did Ibn Khaldun show the weakness of all the reports on al-Mahdi?

Al-Albani also mentions that Ibn Khaldun failed to show even the alleged weakness of certain reports despite his going overboard to prove the weakness of most reports about al-Mahdi. He then states:

فمن نسب إليه أنه ضعف كل أحاديث المهدي فقد كذب عليه سهوا أو عمدا

“Whoever attributed to Ibn Khaldun the weakening of all the reports about al-Mahdi has, purposefully or inadvertently, lied about him.” (Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, Vol.4, 40)

Among those who lied upon Ibn Khaldun and said that he showed the weakness of all the reports are the neo-hadith rejecters Dr. Shahzad Saleem

and Tariq Hashmi.

[16] Narrated Abu Sa’id al-Khudri:

أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، قال: «يخرج في آخر أمتي المهدي يسقيه الله الغيث، وتخرج الأرض نباتها، ويعطي المال صحاحا، وتكثر الماشية وتعظم الأمة، يعيش سبعا أو ثمانيا» يعني حججا

“The Messenger of Allah said: ‘At the end of my nation, there will come forth al-Mahdi. Allah will give him spring rain to drink, and the earth will sprout forth its plants. He will give money away in fairness. The cattle will become numerous, and the nation will be great. He will live seven, or eight’ that is, seasons.” (al-Mustadrak, Hadith 8673)

[17] Al-Dhahabi has agreed with al-Hakim and graded it as sahih. Al-Albani has also graded it as sahih and discussed it in detail in Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, No. 711

[18] Ibn Hibban was not alone in grading Sulayman bin ‘Ubayd as reliable. Yahya bin Ma’in also graded him as trustworthy (thiqah) and Abu Hatim said he is truthful (saduq). See, Ibn Abi Hatim, al-Jarh wa al-Ta’dil, Hyderabad: Da’ira al-Ma’arif al-‘Uthmania, 1952,  Vol.4, 129.

[19] The narration is:

عن محمد بن الحنفية، قال: كنا عند علي رضي الله عنه، فسأله رجل عن المهدي، فقال علي رضي الله عنه: هيهات، ثم عقد بيده سبعا، فقال: ” ذاك يخرج في آخر الزمان

 Muhammad bin al-Hanafiyah related: “We were with ‘Ali, and someone asked him about the Mahdi. ‘Ali replied: ‘Look here.’ Then he made a seven with his fingers and said: ‘He is the one who will come forth at the end of time.’ . . .”
(al-Mustadrak, Hadith 8659). Al-Dhahabi agreed with al-Hakim in grading it as sahihaccording to the conditions of al-Bukhari and Muslim.

[20] Ibn Khaldun has himself stated that “Ahmad, Ibn Ma’in, Abu Hatim, an-Nasa’i and others considered him reliable.” Though he mentions Bishr bin Marwan’s criticism against him it was only because of his pro-Shi’a sentiments. Ibn Hibban has also counted him among the trustworthy.

[21] Showing the authenticity of the hadith “‘Ali is from me and I am from him, and he is the ally of every believer after me,” through the chains of narrators involving certain Shi’as, al-Albani writes:

أن العبرة في رواية الحديث إنما هو الصدق والحفظ، وأما المذهب فهو بينه وبين ربه، فهو حسيبه، ولذلك نجد صاحبي ” الصحيحين ” غيرهما قد أخرجوا لكثير من الثقات المخالفين كالخوارج والشيعة وغيرهم

“What matters in narration of hadith is reliability and retention. As for doctrinal positions, it is between the narrator and Allah and He will put him to requital. For this reason we find authors of the two Sahihs, al-Bukhari and Muslim, and others besides them have narrated on the authority of many reliable narrators belonging to groups like the Khawarij, the Shi’a, and others.”
See, Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah Vol.5, 262.

However, when a report goes against stronger evidence and comes through someone with specific inclinations linked to the subject matter of the hadith it might well be a problem. The report about al-Mahdi does not contradict anything in the entire Islamic rubric.

[22] The narration goes as:

عن أبو الصديق الناجي، عن أبي سعيد الخدري رضي الله عنه، قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «لا تقوم الساعة حتى تملأ الأرض ظلما وجورا وعدوانا، ثم يخرج من أهل بيتي من يملأها قسطا وعدلا كما ملئت ظلما وعدوانا»

Abu al-Siddiq al-Naji narrated on the authority of Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, who said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘The Hour will not be established before the earth is filled with injustice, crime, and transgression. Then there will come forth from my family one who will fill it with equity and justice, as it had been filled with crime and transgression.’” (al-Mustadrak, Hadith 8669)

Al-Dhahabi, like al-Hakim, also graded it as “sahih according to the conditions of al-Bukhari and Muslim.” Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut has graded it likewise in his research on Musnad Ahmad (Hadith 11313). Al-Albani has also graded it as sahih in Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah(Vol.4, 39) and his research on Sahih Ibn Hibban (Hadith 6784)

[23] Al-Tabarani, Abu Sulayman, Mu’jam al-Awsat, Hadith 1075

[24] Here Maulana Thanwi misses the point. Most of the hadith scholars have carefully noted that Ibn Hibban has mentioned in al-Thiqat some narrators who were by themselves little-known (majhul) but they transmitted on the authority of trustworthy narrators and trustworthy narrators transmitted on their authority. According to the established opinion, however, this fact does not make a narrator trustworthy. This explains why al-Dhahabi still graded him as little-known (majhul). In relation to this tradition, however, see note 25 for further details.

[25] Not only Shu’bah (bin al-Hajjaj). Abu Hatim said that two other major hadith authorities ‘Abdul Karim al-Jazri and Muhammad bin Salamah also narrated on his authority. See, Ibn Abi Hatim, al-Jarh wa al-Ta’dil, Vol.6, 18

It is pertinent to note that here we are discussing the chain of authorities: “Abu al-Wasil [Abdul Hamid bin Wasil] -> Abu al-Siddiq al-Naji (…?) -> Abu Sa’id”

Earlier we have discussed and shown the absence and weakness of objections to the following chains for the same narration: “‘Awf bin Abi Jamilah -> Abu al-Siddiq al-Naji -> Abu Sa’id,” and “Sulayman bin ‘Ubayd -> Abu al-Siddiq al-Naji -> Abu Sa’id”

In fact a large number of narrators have reported this tradition on the authority of Abu al-Siddiq al-Naji from Abu Sa’id, so much so that al-Albani says:

بل هو عندي متواتر عن أبي الصديق عن أبي سعيد الخدري

“In fact, it is in my view continuously reported [mutawatir] from Abu al-Siddiq from Abu Sa’id al-Khudri.” (Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, Vol.4, 40)

It may also be noted that in a similar case elsewhere al-Albani has graded as hasan a report through Abu al-Wasil for its corroboration. See, Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, Hadith 1476

In view of this, Ibn Khaldun’s criticism of this version of the narration alone is pointless.

[26] Following are the two narrations:

عن الجريري، عن أبي نضرة، قال: كنا عند جابر بن عبد الله فقال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «يكون في آخر أمتي خليفة يحثي المال حثيا، لا يعده عددا» قال قلت لأبي نضرة وأبي العلاء: أتريان أنه عمر بن عبد العزيز فقالا: لا.

It was narrated from Al-Jurairi that Nadrah said: “We were with Jabir bin ‘Abdullah and he said: . . . ‘The Messenger of Allah said: At the end of my Ummah there will be a Khalifah who will give out handfuls of wealth without counting it.’” He said: “I said to Abu Nadrah and Abul-‘Ala’: “Do you think that that was ‘Umar bin ‘Abdul-‘Aziz?” They said: “No.” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 7315 – 2913 (67))

and;

عن أبي سعيد، قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «من خلفائكم خليفة يحثو المال حثيا، لا يعده عددا»

It was narrated that Abu Sa’id said: “The Messenger of Allah said, “Among your Khulafah will be a Khalifah who will give out handfuls of wealth without counting it.”” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 73175 – 2914 (68))

[27] Muslim bin Hajjaj, al-Sahih, Hadith 395 – 156 (247). It is also from Jabir bin ‘Abdullah. In Sahih Muslim, it does not mention the name al-Mahdi. However, in the narration from  al-Harith bin Abi Usamah the name al-Mahdi is categorically mentioned:

ينزل عيسى بن مريم، فيقول أميرهم المهدي: تعال صل بنا

‘Isa bin Maryam will descend and their leader, al-Mahdi, will say: ‘Come and lead us in prayer . . .’
See, Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya, al-Manar al-Munir fi al-Sahih wa al-Da’if. Aleppo: Maktaba al-Matbu’at al-Islamiyya, 1970. 147, Hadith 338. Ibn al-Qayyim said, ‘Its chain of narrators is good [jayyid].’

For a detailed discussion on the reliability of this report, answer to objections and its significance see, al-Albani’s Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah, Hadith 2236

[28] Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah, Vol.2, 184

[29] ibid., 169

[30] ibid., 165

[31] ibid., 166

[32] Mudallis is someone who is known for omitting a narrator from the chain of transmission of a hadith in a subtle manner. Such a narrator narrates a hadith, which he had not heard from a person whom he met and with whom he was contemporary, in such a manner as to give the impression that he had heard it directly from him. This practice is known as tadlis.

[33] ibid., 169

[34] Even though scholars including Maulana Thanwi have mentioned various interpretations of this narration, it is agreed upon that it is weak. ‘Ali bin Sultan al-Qari (aka Mullah Ali al-Qari) states:

أن حديث: لا مهدي إلا عيسى بن مريم ضعيف باتفاق المحدثين

“The hadith: ‘There is no Mahdi except ‘Isa’, is weak by the consensus of the scholars of hadith.”
See, al-Qari, ‘Ali bin Sultan, Mirqat al-Mafatih, Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, 2002, Vol.8, 3448

[35] It is a reference to the well-known hadith:

عن أبي هريرة، عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، قال: ” لم يتكلم في المهد إلا ثلاثة: عيسى ابن مريم، وصبي كان في زمان جريج، وصبي آخر

Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “None spoke in the cradle but three: ‘Isa bin Maryam, a child during the time of Juraij, and another child.” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 8072; also al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 3436)

[36] al-Sajistani, Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, Hadith 4294; classified as hasan by al-Albani

[37] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 2015

[38] al-Sajistani, Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, Hadith 499; classified as hasan sahih by al-Albani

[39] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 5747

[40] Al-Bukhari, al-Sahih, Hadith 6990

[41] Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah, Vol.2, 190

[42] “al-Shajrah al-Nu’maniya fi al-Dawlah al-‘Usmaniya” by Ibn al-‘Arabi. Ahmed Zildzic in his doctoral dissertation at the University of California, Berkeley, refers to it as “a brief and confusing astrological text replete with obscure innuendos.” (Friend and Foe: The early Ottoman reception of Ibn ‘Arabi, 82)

There are a number of commentaries on it, e.g. Sadr al-Din al-Qunuwi’s “al-Lam’ah al-Nuraniyah fi Mushkilat al-Nu’maniyah”, al-Maqari’s “al-Qawa’id al-Siriyyah fi hal Mushkilat al-Shajrah al-Nu’maniya”, and Ibn al-Amir al-Safadi’s “Rumuz al-Shajrah al-Nu’maniya

[43] Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah, Vol.2, 324 (Chapter 5, Section 4)

[44] ibid., 229 (Chapter 3, Section 52)

[45] ibid., Vol.1, 222-223 (Chapter 1, Section 6)

The Mahdi: Between Ahlus Sunnah and the Shia

One of the most prominent beliefs of the Rafidi Shia, with which their books are filled, is belief in the awaited Mahdi. What the Imami Rafidis mean by the awaited Mahdi is Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-‘Askari, who is their twelfth Imam and whom they call ‘the proof’ and ‘the one who stands for the truth’.

They claim that he was born in 255 AH and that he hid in the tunnel of Samarra in 265 AH; they are waiting for his appearance at the end of time, when he will avenge them against their enemies and support them. The Rafidi Shia still visit the tunnel of Samarra and call upon him to emerge.

In fact, this Mahdi who is claimed by the Rafidis is non-existent. Al-Hasan al-‘Askari, whom they name as his father, died without leaving any child behind; his estate was divided between his mother and his brother Ja’far. This Shiite belief in the awaited Mahdi is accompanied by many myths and fables that no rational person could believe. They believe that the Mahdi is one of the descendants of al-Husayn رضي الله عنه, and they narrate strange stories about him.

They say that when he emerges, the Rafidi Shia will come from all over to rally around him. He will bring the noble Companions رضي الله عنهم out of their graves and punish them; he will kill the Arabs and Quraysh; he will destroy the Ka’bah, the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم Mosque and all other mosques; he will call people to a new religion, a new book and new laws; and he will conquer cities with the Ark of the Covenant of the Jews.

Two springs, of water and milk, will flow for him, and one Shiite Rafidi man will gain the strength of forty men; he will give them strength and power in their hearing and vision, and he will rule according to the law of the family of Dawood عليه السلام.

The beliefs of the Rafidi Shia concerning their awaited Mahdi are false. This fact is indicated by a number of things:

It is Proven that this Mahdi was not Born

By the wisdom of Allah سبحانه و تعالى, it was decreed that al-Hasan al-‘Askari, the eleventh Imam of the Rafidis, should die childless. This was a great scandal and a major setback for the Rafidi Shia: how could the Imam die without having any sons who could succeed him as Imam? Their belief is that the one who succeeds the imam after his death must be his son, and it is not permissible for the imamate to be passed to a brother after al-Hasan رضي الله عنه and al-Husayn رضي الله عنه. The fact that this Mahdi was not born is proven in the books of the Shia themselves.

It Makes No Sense for the Mahdi to Disappear

If we accept for argument’s sake that this Mahdi was born, it makes no sense for him to disappear for this long time in the tunnel. When the Rafidi Shia are asked about the wisdom behind his disappearance in the tunnel and his not coming out to the people, they explain that he feared for his life. This is a weak excuse, and many things show this to he false. It is narrated in their books that he will be supported by Allah سبحانه و تعالى and will gain control of the entire earth, east and west. He will fill the earth with justice as it was filled with injustice, and he will live until the time when ‘Eesa ibn Maryam [Jesus the son of Mary عليه السلام] descends.

What they say means that the Mahdi will never emerge until the states of injustice and oppression and evil go away, so that he can feel that his life is safe – but at that time there will be no need for him to emerge. These states are able to protect him if he emerges, so why does he not emerge? The one who cannot protect himself from being killed will not he able to protect others either, because the one who does not have a thing cannot give it. How can they be waiting for someone like that to avenge them against their enemies and cause them to prevail? Thus their claims are proven invalid, because the reason why the Mahdi has not emerged is that he fears for his life. Based on that, the claim that the Mahdi existed at all is rendered invalid, because nothing is preventing him from coming out of hiding except fear for his life, as was clearly stated by Shaykh at-Ta’ifah at-Tusi.

So the claims about the existence of the Mahdi are proven false by the testimony of their own scholars, and this is by the grace of Allah سبحانه و تعالى.

No Benefit has been Achieved by this Mahdi

Another indication of the falseness of the Rafidi Shiite belief in the awaited Mahdi is that this Mahdi, who the Rafidis claim will emerge, has not achieved any interest, religious or worldly, and the Muslims have not benefited from him at all, either the Rafidis or any others. Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah said: “This infallible one, whom they claim was born at some time more than four hundred and fifty years ago, entered the tunnel, according to them, in 260 AH, when he was five years old according to some of them, or younger than that according to others. He did not do anything that the infallible Imam does. What benefits can there be in the existence of such a one, even if he did exist? So how about if he never existed at all? What blessing or benefit did those who believed in this infallible one attain by means of him in their religious or worldly interests? … This figure in whom the Rafidis believe must be either absent, according to them, or non-existent, according to people of reason. Whatever the case, there is no benefit to anyone in either religious or worldly terms.”

The Twelver Shia nowadays have gone against this belief in practical terms through their belief in the theory of ‘guardianship of the jurist’, which allows ruling and governing by an ordinary Muslim who is not infallible and for whom there is no instruction or text from Allah and His Messenger, provided that he has knowledge and is of good character.

The Belief of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah

The sound hadiths state that at the end of time, Allah سبحانه و تعالى will bring forth a man from Ahlul-Bayt through whom Allah سبحانه و تعالى will cause Islam to prevail. He will rule for seven years, filling the earth with justice and peace as it had been filled with injustice and oppression. During his rule, the Ummah will enjoy blessings that it never enjoyed before; the earth will bring forth its vegetation, the sky will send down rain, and he will give wealth without measure. The following are some of these hadiths:

It was narrated from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri رضي الله عنه that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “At the end of my Ummah, the Mahdi will appear. Allah will send a great deal of rain for him, the earth will bring forth its vegetation, and he will distribute wealth equally among the people. The numbers of livestock will increase, and the Ummah will become great. He will live for seven or eight years.”

It was also narrated from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri رضي الله عنه that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “The Hour will not begin until the earth is filled with oppression and enmity. Then a man from my family will emerge, and he will fill it with fairness and justice as it was filled with oppression and enmity.”

It was narrated that Thawban رضي الله عنه said: “The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: ‘Three will fight one another for your treasure, each one of them the son of a caliph, but none of them will gain it. Then the black banners will come from the east, and they will kill you in an unprecedented manner.’ He mentioned something that I do not remember, then he said: ‘When you see him, pledge your allegiance to him even if you have to crawl over the snow, for that is the caliph of Allah, the Mahdi.'”

Imam Ibn Katheer said: “What is meant by the treasure mentioned in this report is the treasure of the Ka’bah, three sons of caliphs will be killed fighting for it until, at the end of time, the Mahdi will appear. His appearance will be from a land in the east, not from the tunnel of Samarra in which the ignorant Rafidis claim he has been until now, where they are waiting for him to emerge at the end of time. This is a kind of madness and a great deal of misguidance from Satan, because there is no proof or evidence for that, either from the Qur’an or the Sunnah, or any rational evidence …. He will be supported by people from the east, who will establish his rule. Their banners will be black, which is the colour of dignity, because the banner of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم was black and was called al-‘Iqaab… What is meant is that the promised, praiseworthy Mahdi who will appear at the end of time will originate and appear and emerge from the east, and allegiance will be sworn to him at the Ka’bah, as is indicated by some hadiths.”

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah رضي الله عنه said that he heard the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم say: “How will you be when the son of Maryam descends and your leader is one of you?”

It was narrated that Jabir ibn ‘Abdillah رضي الله عنه said that he heard the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم say: “A group among my Ummah will continue to fight for the truth and will prevail until the Day of Resurrection. ‘Eesa ibn Maryam will descend, and their leader will say: ‘Come and lead us in prayer,’ but he will say: ‘No, you are leaders of one another,’ as an honour from Allah to this Ummah.”

The hadiths, which are narrated in Bukhari and Muslim, indicate two things:

(1) That when ‘Eesa ibn Maryam عليه السلام descends from heaven, the one in charge of the Muslims will be one of them.

(2) That their ruler will be there to lead the Muslims in prayer, and the fact that he will ask ‘Eesa عليه السلام to lead them in prayer when he descends indicates that this ruler will be righteous and guided.

There are other hadiths in the Sunan and Musnads and elsewhere that explain these hadiths that appear in Bukhari and Muslim, they indicate that the name of that righteous man will be Muhammad ibn Abdillah and he will be called the Mahdi. The reports of the Sunnah support and explain each another.

It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri رضي الله عنه said that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “He is one of us behind whom ‘Eesa ibn Maryam will pray.”

It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri رضي الله عنه said that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “The Mahdi is of me. He has a high forehead and a prominent nose. He will fill the world with fairness and justice as it was filled with wrongdoing and injustice, and he will rule for seven years.”

There is no connection at all between the Mahdi of the Sunnah and the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia. There are many differences between them, such as:

(1) According to Ahlus-Sunnah, the Mahdi’s name is Muhammad ibn Abdillah, his name is the same as the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and his father’s name is the same as the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم father. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, his name is Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-‘Askari.

(2) According to Ahlus-Sunnah, the Mahdi is one of the descendants of al-Hasan رضي الله عنه. The Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia is one of the descendants of al-Husayn رضي الله عنه.

(3) According to Ahlus-Sunnah, the Mahdi will be born naturally, and his lifespan will be natural. There is nothing in the hadiths to indicate that he is at all different from other people in that regard. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, his conception and birth happened in one night, and he entered the tunnel when he was nine years old; now he has been in the tunnel for more than 1150 years.

(4) The Mahdi, according to Ahlus-Sunnah, will emerge to support Islam and the Muslims, and he will not differentiate between one nation and another. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, he will emerge to support only the Rafidi Shia and to wreak vengeance on their enemies. He will hate the Arabs and Quraysh and will give them nothing but the sword; there will be no Arabs among his followers, according to their reports.

(5) The Mahdi of Ahlus-Sunnah will love the Companions رضي الله عنهم of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم; he will ask Allah to he pleased with them and will adhere to their way. He will also love the Mothers of the Believers رضى الله عنهنّ and will not mention them except in the best terms. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, they claim that he will hate the Companions of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and will bring them out of their graves in order to punish them and then burn them. He will also hate the Mothers of the Believers رضى الله عنهنّ and will despise the dearest of the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم wives to him, as-Siddeeqah bint as-Siddeeq ‘A’ishah رضي الله عنها – or so they claim.

(6) The Mahdi of Ahlus-Sunnah will act according to the Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم; he will not leave any Sunnah without establishing it or any innovation without suppressing it. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, he will call people to a new religion and a new book.

(7) The Mahdi of Ahlus-Sunnah will build and frequent mosques. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, he will destroy mosques; he will destroy al-Masjid al-Haraam and the Ka’bah, and the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم Mosque, and will not leave a single mosque on the face of the earth – as is clearly stated in their reports.

(8) The Mahdi of Ahlus-Sunnah will rule in accordance with the Book of Allah سبحانه و تعالى and the Sunnah of His Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, he will rule according to the law of the family of Dawood عليه السلام.

(9) The Mahdi of Ahlus-Sunnah will emerge from the east. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, he will emerge from the tunnel of Samarra.

(10) The Mahdi of Ahlus-Sunnah is true and proven, as indicated by the hadiths of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and the words of the scholars of the past and of the present. As for the Mahdi of the Rafidi Shia, he is a figment of their imagination who has not appeared and will never appear.

Belief regarding Imam Mahdi (Alayhi Salaam)

[By Majlisul Ulama]

INTRODUCTION

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

IMAAM MAHDI (Alayhis salaam)

Since  the  very  time  of  Rasulullah  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam) down  to  this  present  age,  it  has  always  been  the  unanimous  (Ijmaaee)  belief  of  the  Ahlus  Sunnah  Wal  Jama’ah  (the  Followers  of  the Four  Math-habs)  that  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  will  appear during  the  last  of  ages,  namely,  during  the  age  when  Hadhrat  Nabi Isaa  (alayhis salaam)  and  Dajjaal will make  their  appearance.

The  Shiahs  subscribe  to  a  concocted  and  baseless  view  regarding Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam).  They  believe  that  at  the  age  of  five or  six  years  in the  fifth  century,  Imaam Mahdi  disappeared  with the original  Qur’aan  and  is  until  this  day  hibernating  in  a  cave  in concealment  and  fear.  He  will  appear  according  to  their  baseless concoction,  during  the  final  era  of  this  world  and  exhume  the bodies  of  Hadhrat  Abu  Bakr,  Hadhrat  Umar  and  Hadhrat  Aishah (radhiyallahu  anhum)  and  punish  them  severely  after  having restored them to life.

In  these  days,  modernists—or  some  deviant  modernists  —  have cast aspersions on the  authentic  Ahaadith which  report and establish beyond  any  vestige  of  doubt  the  Ahlus  Sunnah’s  belief  regarding the  advent  of  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam).  All  authorities  of  the Ahlus  Sunnah  Wal  Jama’ah  —of  former  and  later  times— unanimously  proclaim  the  correctness  of  the  belief  regarding Imaam Mahdi (alayhis salaam).

In  fact,  even  those  who  do  not  follow  any  of  the  four  Math-habs  of the  Ahlus  Sunnah,  and  who  are  unnecessarily  critical  of  many Saheeh  Ahaadith,  also  accept  the  authenticity  of  the  Ahaadith  on which  the  belief  pertaining  to  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  is based.  Among  such  non-Math-habis  is  Ibn Qayyim  from  whose  works  we  have  liberally  cited  in  this  brief treatise.

These  modernists  rejecting  the  belief  regarding  Imaam  Mahdi (alayhis  salaam)  endeavour  to  create  doubts  in  the  minds  of unwary  and  ignorant  Muslims.  These  miscreants  usually  are  those deviates who  are  averse  to the Four Math-habs.  But, their views are baatil  —having  no validity  in the  Shariah.

The  narrations  which  establish  the  belief  of  the  Ahlus  Sunnah regarding  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  are  of  the  Mutawaatir category.  This  is  the  highest  category  of  Ahadith  which  have  the force  of Qur’aanic  Aayaat. There  is no  compromise  on this belief. Those  who deny  this authentic  belief expose  themselves to kufr.

HADHRAT  NABI  ISAA’S  (ALAYHIS  SALAAM)  PLACE  OF BURIAL

The  same  deviants  who  reject  the  Islamic  belief  pertaining  to  the burial  of  Hadhrat  Isaa  (alayhis  salaam)  alongside  the  Holy  Grave of  Rasulullah  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  after  his  dissension  and reign  during  the  last  of  eras,  also  refute  the  narrations  which categorically  mention  the  burial  place  of  Hadhrat  Isaa  (alayhis salaam).

In  the  ensuing  lines  copious  authentic  narrations  and  rulings  of  the authorities  of  the  Shariah  have  been  furnished  to  prove  both  beliefs of  the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah, namely:

(1)  The  appearance  of  Hadhrat  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)

(2)  The  Burial place  of  Hadhrat  Isaa  (alayhis salaam).

May  Allah  Ta’ala  protect  our  Imaan  and  save  us  from  the  shaitaani deceptions  of  the  people  of  baatil  opinion  about  whom  Hadhrat Sayyiduna  Umar  Ibn  Khattaab  (radhiyallahu  anhu)  said:  “Verily, the people of opinion are  the enemies  of the  Sunnah.”

THE AQEEDAH OF THE  AHLE SUNNAT  WAL JAMAA`AT REGARDING THE COMING OF IMAAM MAHDI

The  Ahaadith  regarding  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  are authentic. The  names  of  those  Muhadditheen  who  have  stated  that  the Ahaadith  regarding  Hadhrat  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  are Mutawaatir are  listed hereunder:

1.  Haafiz-e-Hadith  Hadhrat  Abul  Husain  Muhammad  Ibn  Husain Al-Abri  As-Sanjari  (rahmatullahi  alayh),  the  author  of  “Manaasib Shaafi”  –  passed away  363 A.H.

2.  Hadhrat  Allamah  Muhammad  As-Safaarini  (rahmatullah  alayh) – passed away  1188 A.H.

3.  Hadhrat  Allamah  Muhammad  Al-Barzanji  (rahmatullah  alayh)  – passed away  1103 A.H.

4.  Hadhrat  Allamah  Qaadhi  Muhammad  Ibn  Ali  Ash-Shaukaani (rahmatullah alayh)  –  passed away  1250  A.H.

5.  Hadhrat  Allamah  Siddiq  Hassan  Al-Qanuji  (rahmatullah  alayh) –  passed away  1307 A.H.

6.  Allamah  Muhammad  Bin  Ja`far  Al-Kitaabi  –  passed  away  1347 A.H.

Besides  these  there  are  numerous  other  Muhadditheen  and Ulama who have  cited  Ahaadith  regarding  Imaam Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam).

The  Aimmah  who  have  extracted  Ahaadith  regarding  Imaam Mahdi (alayhis  salaam)

There  are  numerous  Aimmah-e-Hadith  who  have  quoted  Ahaadith regarding  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  in  their  respective compilations  of Ahaadith. Amongst them are:

1.  Imaam  Abu  Dawood  (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  quoted  Ahaadith regarding  Imaam Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam) in his  Sunan.

2.  Imaam  Tirmidhi  (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  listed  Ahaadith regarding  Imaam Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam) in his  Jaam`i.

3.  Imaam  Ibn Maaja (rahmatullah alayh) in his  Sunan.

4.  Imaam Nasai (rahmatullah alayh).

5.  Imaam Ahmad  Bin Hambal (rahmatullah alayh)  in his  Masnad.

6.  Imaam  Ibn Hibbaan (rahmatullah alayh) in his  Saheeh.
7.  Imaam Haakim  (rahmatullah alayh) in his  Saheeh.

8.  Imaam  Abu  Bakr  Ibn  Shaibah  (rahmatullah  alayh) in  his Musannaf.

9.  Imaam Ibn  Nuaim  Ibn  Hammaad  (rahmatullah  alayh)  in  his Kitaabul Fitan.

10. Haafiz  Abu Nuaim  (rahmatullah alayh) in his  Kitaabul Mahdi.

11.  Imaam  Tibrani  (rahmatullah  alayh)  in  Mu`jamul  Kabeer, Mu`jamul Owsat, and  Mu`jamus Sagheer.

12.  Imaam Daar-e-Qutni  (rahmatullah alayh).

13.  Allamah  Al-Maarudi  (rahmatullah  alayh)  in  his  Kitaab Ma`rifatus Sahaabah.

14.  Imaam Abu Ya`lah Al-Musali (rahmatullah alayh).

15.  Imaam Al-Bazaaz  (rahmatullah alayh).

16.  Imaam Al-Haarith  Ibn Abi Usaamah (rahmatullah alayh).

17.  Hadhrat  Allamah  Khateebul  Baghdaadi  (rahmatullah  alayh)  in his  Kitaabs,  Talkheesul  Mutashaabeh  and  Al  Muttafiq  Wal  Mu- tafarriq.

18.  Hadhrat  Allamah  Ibn  Asaakir  (rahmatullah  alayh)  in  his Taareekh.

19. Hadhrat Allamah  Ibn  Mandah (rahmatullah alayh).

20. Hadhrat Allamah  Abul Hasan Al-Harbi (rahmatullah alayh).

21. Hadhrat Allamah  Tamaam Raazi (rahmatullah alayh).

22. Hadhrat Allamah  Ibn  Jareer (rahmatullah alayh).

23. Hadhrat  Imaam Abu  Bakr  Ibn Maghrabi (rahmatullah alayh).

24. Hadhrat Allama  Abu  Umar Ad Duwali  (rahmatullah alayh).

25. Allamah  Imaam Ad  Dailami  (rahmatullah alayh).

26. Allamah Abu Nuaim  Al-Kaufi (rahmatullah alayh).

27.  Allamah  Imaam  Abul  Hasan  Bin  Al-Manaawi  (rahmatullah alayh).

28.  Imaam Baihaqi (rahmatullah alayh).

29.  Imaam  Ibn jauzi (rahmatullah alayh).

30.  Imaam  Yahya  Bin  Abdil  Humaid  Al-Hamaani  (rahmatullah alayh).

31. Allamah Daryaani (rahmatullah alayh).

32. Allamah  Ibn sa`ad (rahmatullah alayh) in his  Tabaqaat.

33. Allamah  Ibn Khuzaima  (rahmatullah alayh).

34. Allamah  Imaam Al-Hasan  Bin Sufyaan (rahmatullah alayh).

35. Allamah  Imaam Umar  Ibn Shaibah (rahmatullah alayh).

36. Imaam Abu U`waanah (rahmatullah alayh).

The  Kitaabs  of  the  Muhadditheen  regarding  Imaam  Mahdi (alayhis salaam)

There  are  numerous  Ahaadith  of  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam) regarding  the  Imaam  of  the  final  era,  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis salaam),  which  have  been  narrated,  either  in  passing  or specifically,  by  various  Muhadditheen.  Hereunder  we  shall mention  the  names  of  a  few  Muhadditheen  who  have  written Kitaabs  dealing  specifically  with  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam), or  who have  mentioned regarding  him  in their works:

1. Imaam  Abu  Bakr  Ibn  Khaithamah  Zaheer  Bin  Harb (rahmatullah  alayh),  has,  according  to  Allamah  Ibn  Khaldoon (rahmatullah  alayh),  compiled  Ahaadith  dealing  specifically  with Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam),  in  his  work,  Al-Ahaadithul Waaridah Fil  Mahdi.

2.  Al-Imaamul  Haafiz  Abu  Nuaim  (rahmatullah  alayh)  –  his  name was  cited  by  Hadhrat  Imaam  Suyuti  (rahmatullah  alayh)  in  his KitaabAl-Jaam`i-us-Sagheer  and  Al-Urful  Wardi.  Imaam  Suyuti (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  added  on  to  this,  more  Ahaadith  and narrations.

3.  Allamah  Suyuti  (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  listed  more  than  200 Ahaadith and narrations regarding  Imaam Mahdi (alayhis  salaam).

4.  Allamah  Mar`i  Ibn  Yusuf  Al  Hambali  (rahmatullah  alayh) [passed  way  1303  A.H.)  has  compiled  a  very  wide  spectrum  of Ahaadith  regarding  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  in  his  Kitaab, Fawaaidul  Fikr Fi Zuhooril  Mahdiyil Muntadhir.

5.  Hadhrat  Allamah  Muhammad  Al-Barzanji  (rahmatullah  alayh) [Passed  away  1103  A.H.]  has  also  compiled  many  Ahaadith regarding  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  in  his  Kitaab,  Al- Ishaa’atul  Ashraatis  Saa’ah.  He  has  also  stated  the  Ahaadith regarding  Imaam Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam) to be  Mutawaatir.

6.  Allamah  Qaadhi  Muhammad  Ibn  Ali  Ash-Shaukaani (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  written  an  entire  Kitaab  regarding  Imaam Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam),  titled,  At-Taudeehu  Fi  Tawaatur  Ma  Jaa`a Fil  Mahdiyil  Muntadhir  Wad  Dajaal  Wal  Maseeh.  He  has  also stated  the  Ahaadith  regarding  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  to  be Mutaawatir.

7.  Haafiz  Amaadudeen  Ibn  Katheer  (rahmatullah  alayh)  in  his Kitaab,  Al  Fitan  Wal  Malaahim,  has  dedicated  an  entire  chapter wherein  he  has  made  an  excellent  discussion  regarding  Imaam Mahdi (alayhis salaam).

8.  Allamah  Ibn  Hajar  Al  Makki  (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  written  a detailed  treatise  in  his  Kitaab,  Al-Qowlul  Mukhtasar  Fi  Alamaatil Mahdiyil Muntadhir.

9.  Hadhrat  Allamah  Ali  Al  Muttaqi  Al  Hindi  (rahmatullah  alayh), the  author  of  Kanzul  Ummaal,  has  written  a  special  treatise  dealing with  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam),  which  has  been  referred  to  by Allamah  Barzanji  (rahmatullah  alayh)  in  Al-Ishaa`at  and  by Hadhrat Mullah Ali  Qaari (rahmatullah alayh) in  Mirqaat.

10.  Hadhrat  Allamah  Mullah  Ali  Qaari  (rahmatullah  alayh)  has dilated  in  detail  regarding  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  in  his Kitaab,  Al-Mashribul  Wardi Fi  Math-habil  Mahdi.

11. Allamah  Ameer  Muhammad  Ibn  Ismail  As-San`aani (rahmatullah  alayh)  –  [passed  way  1182  A.H.],  the  author  of Subulul  Islam,  has  also  shed  much  light  on  the  coming  of  Imaam Mahdi (alayhis salaam) and details thereof.

Ahaadith  regarding  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  in  the Saheehain

There  is  no  explicit  and  clear  narration  in  the  Saheehain  regarding Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam),  however,  the  subject  of  some  of their  Ahaadith  can  be  found,  verbatim,  in  other  Ahaadith  Kitaabs, wherein  these  narrations  (which  appear  in  the  Saheehain)  are  better understood  and  ‘interpreted’.  Hereunder  are  some  Ahaadith  which appear in the  Saheehain,

“It  is  reported  from  Abu  Hurairah  (radhiyallahu  anhu)  who  said, ‘Rasulullah  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  said,  ‘What  will  be  your condition  when  the  son  of  Maryam  descends  and  your  Imaam  will be  amongst  you?”  [Narrated  in  Bukhari  in  the  chapter,  Nuzoolu Isaa  Bin Maryam]

Imaam  Muslim  (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  narrated  in  his  Saheeh, from  Hadhrat  Jaabir  (radhiyallahu  anhu),  that  he  heard  Nabi (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  saying, A  group  from  my  Ummat  will always  be  engaged  in  fighting  upon  the  Haqq  (and)  they  will  be victorious  until  (just  before  the  advent  of)  The  Day  of  Qiyaamah… Isaa  Ibn  Maryam  (alayhis  salaam)  will  descend  and  their  Ameer will  say  to  him,  ‘Come  and  lead  our  Salaat’.  He  will  reply,  ‘No! some  of  you  are  leaders  unto  others.  Allah  Ta`ala  has  honoured this Ummat.’”

Two  points are  worth noting  here:

(1)  At  the  time  of  Hadhrat  Isaa’s  (alayhis  salaam)  descension,  the Muslim  Ummat will  have  a  pious  and just leader.

(2)  The  fact  that  Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam)  will  ask  this  Imaam to  lead  the  Salaat  is  ample  proof  that  he  will  be  a  pious  and virtuous  Imaam.

Now  the  question  arises  as  to  whether  this  Imaam  is  in  fact  Imaam Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)?  The  excellent  qualities  and  traits  of  this pious  Imaam  are  borne  out  by  numerous  Ahaadith.  His  name, Muhammad  Ibn  Abdillah,  has  also  been  mentioned  in  numerous Ahaadith.  In  a  narration  reported  in  Musnad  Al  Haarith  Ibn  Abi Usaamah,  and  exact  narration  such  as  this  one  is  reported  by Hadhrat  Jaabir  (radhiyallahu  anhu),  wherein  he  states  the  word,  Al Mahdi,  after  the  words  ‘their  Ameer’.  This  narration  becomes  a Tafseer of  the Hadith which appears  in Muslim Shareef.

Examine  the  narration  which  appears  in  Musnad  Al  Haarith  Bin Usaamah:

“It  is  reported  from  Jaabir  (radhiyallahu  anhu),  who  says  that Rasulullah  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  said,  ‘A  group  from  my Ummat  will  always  be  engaged  in  fighting  upon  the  Haqq  (and) they  will  be  victorious  until  (just  before  the  advent  of)  The  Day  of Qiyaamah…  Isaa  Ibn  Maryam  (alayhis  salaam)  will  descend  and their  Ameer,  Al  Mahdi,  will  say  to  him,  ‘Come  and  lead  our Salaat’.  He  will  reply,  ‘No!  some  of  you  are  leaders  unto  others. Allah  Ta`ala has  honoured this Ummat.’”

Regarding  this  Hadith,  Ibn  Qayyim  states  in  Al  Manaarul  Muneef  , “Isnaaduhu Jayyidun”  (Its chain of  narrators is  excellent).  It is very clear  and  evident  that  this  narration  forms  an  interpretation  and dilation  of  the  narration  which  appears  in  Muslim  Shareef.  Those Ahaadith  wherein  the  name  of  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  is not  mentioned,  and  he  is  merely  described  as  a  pious/virtuous  man, are  clarified  by  other  Ahadith  which  describes  Imaam  Mahdi  with clarity.  There  are  other  narrations  which  clearly  state  that  the person  who  will  ask  Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam)  to  lead  the  Salaat will  be  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam).  Therefore,  in  the  abovementioned  Hadith,  the  pious/virtuous  man  who  will  ask  Hadhrat Isa  (alayhis  salaam)  to  lead  the  Salaat  is  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis salaam).  In  the  Saheehain  his  name  is  not  given  but  owing  to  the narration  which  appears  in  Sanad  Al  Harith,  we  come  to  know  that the  pious/virtuous  Imaam  who  will  ask  Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis salaam) to lead the  Salaat  will  be  Imaam Mahdi (alayhis  salaam).

Allamah  Siddiq  Hasan  Qanooji  (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  compiled  a large  number  of Ahaadith regarding  Imaam Mahdi (alayhis  salaam) in his Kitaab,  Al-Izaa`a. At the end, he  quotes the  above-mentioned narration  from  Muslim  Shareef  and  comments,  “The  word, ‘Mahdi’  is  not  mentioned  in  this  Hadith,  but  in  this  Hadith  and other  such  Ahaadith,  there  is  no  possibility  of  this  person  being any  other,  than  the  awaited  Mahdi,  as  can  be  borne  out  by  the above-mentioned Ahaadith and numerous narrations.”

The  Ahaadith  regarding  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  in Kitaabs other  than  the  Saheehain

There  are  too  many  Ahaadith  which  appear  in  other  Ahaadith Kitaabs, besides the  Saheehain, wherein mention is made  of  Imaam Mahdi (alayhis  salaam).  Hereunder we  will  mention a few:
1.  “It is reported  from  Abu Saeed  Khudri  (radhiyallahu anhu),  who says  that  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  said,  ‘I  give  you  the glad  tidings  of  Mahdi,  who  will  be  sent  at  the  time  when  there  will be  great  differences  amongst  the  people,  and  earthquakes.  The earth  will  then  be  filled  with  justice  just  as  it  was  filled  with oppression  and  rebellion.  The  inhabitants  of  the  heavens  and  earth will be pleased  with him.  He  will distribute  wealth  with ‘Sihaah’.  

A  Sahaabi  asked,  ‘What  is  meant  by  ‘Sihaah’?  Nabi  (sallallahu alayhi  wasallam)  replied,  ‘With  Equality  and  justice.  Allah  Ta’ala will  fill  the  hearts  of  the  Ummat  of  Muhammad  with  peace  and contentment,  and  their  justice  will  permeate  and  become widespread….’” [Narrated by  Ahmad]

Haafizul  Hadith,  Allamah  Nooruddeen  Abul  Hasan  Bin  Ali  Bin Abi  Bakr  Ibn  Sulaimaan  Al-Haythami  (rahmatullah  alayh)  has mentioned in  Majmu`us  Zawaahid, that  Imaam Ahmad  Ibn Hambal (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  narrated  this  Hadith  through  various chains.  Imaam  Abu  Ya`la  has  reported  it  with  brevity.  The narrators of both are  reliable.

2.  “It  has  been  reported  by  Abu  Huraira  (radhiyallahu  anhu)  that Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  mentioned  regarding  Mahdi  and he  said,  ‘He  will  reign  for  a  period  of  seven  years,  eight  years  or nine  years.  He  will  fill  the  earth  with  justice  and  equality  just  as  it was filled with oppression and rebellion.”  [Bazaaz]

Allamah Haithami  (rahmatullah alayh)  mentioned  that the narrators in  the  Hadith  narrated  by  Bazaaz  are  reliable.  Nevertheless,  some have  stated some  of the  narrators  to be  unreliable.

3.  “It  has  been  reported  by  Abu  Hurairah  that  he  said,  Rasulullah (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  said,  ‘There  will  be  in  my  Ummat  a Mahdi, who will  reign for seven  years, or  eight  years or  nine years. My  Ummat  will  receive  such  benefits  which  they  had  never  before experienced.  The  skies  will  be  opened  up  for  them.  The  earth  will not  withhold  anything  of  its  vegetation.  A  person  will  stand  up  and say,  ‘O  Mahdi!  Give  me.’  He  will  say  to  the  man,  ‘Take!’  (as  much as you please).”  [Tibrani]

Hadhrat  Imaam  Haithami  (rahmatullah  alayh)  stated  that  Imaam Tabri  (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  narrated  this  Hadith  in  his  Ausat  and that all  the narrators thereof  are  reliable.

4.  Imaam  Abu  Dawood  (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  compiled  one chapter  in  his  Sunan,  which  begins  with  The  first  Kitaab  of  Mahdi and  ends  with  The  last  Kitaab  of  Mahdi.  In  this  compilation, Imaam Abu Dawood narrates 13 Ahaadith.

5.  Imaam  Abu  Dawood,  (rahmatullah  alayh)  reports  from  Hadhrat Aasim  Ibn  Abi  Najood,  who  reports  from  Janaab  Zarr   (rahmatullah  alayh),  who  in  turn  reports  from  Hadhrat  Abdullah Ibn  Mas`ood  (radhiyallahu  anhu)  that  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi wasallam)  said,  “If  there  remains  even  one  day  for  the  existence  of this  earth,  Allah  will  extend  that  day  until  He  sends  therein  a  man from myself, or  from my  family. His name  will conform to mine  and his  father’s  name  to  my  father’s.  He  will  fill  the  earth  with  justice and equality just  as it was filled with oppression and rebellion.”

After  narrating  this  Hadith,  Imaam  Abu  Dawood  and  Imaam Munzari  (rahmatullah  alayhima)  remained  silent  (i.e.  they  did  not comment  anything  on  the  reliability  of  the  narrators).  Similarly, Ibn  Qayyim also remained silent regarding  this Hadith  in  Tahzeeb.  However,  in  his  second  Kitaab,  Al  Minaarul Muneef,  he  had  indicated  towards  the  authenticity  of  this  narration. Ibn  Taimiyyah  has  mentioned  regarding  the  authenticity  of  this Hadith  in  Minhaajus  Sunnah.  Allamah  Baghawi  (rahmatullah alayh)  has  also  narrated  this  Hadith  without  any  criticisms  against it.  Allamah  Baanwi  (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  mentioned  in  Takhreej Ahaadithul Mishkaat, that this narration is  reliable.

The  general  view  regarding  Aasim  Ibn  Abi  Najood (rahmatullah  alayh)

This  Hadith  stems  from  Hadhrat  Aasim  Ibn  Abi  Najood (rahmatullah  alayh).  We  will  mention  a  few  statements  and  views regarding  this  narrator  as  they  appear  in  the  Kitaab,  Aunul Ma`bood Sharah Sunan  Abi Dawood,

*  Aasim  is  the  son  of  Abul  Najood.  Abul  Najood  Bahdalah’s (rahmatullah  alayh)  name  is  amongst  the  names  of  the  Sab`ah   Qurraas.

*  Imaam  Ahmad  Bin  Hambal  (rahmatullah  alayh)  said,  “He  is  a pious  man and I  prefer his Qiraat  as well.”

*  Imaam  Ahmad  Bin  Hambal  and  Imaam  Abu  Zur`ah  (rahmatullah alayhima) have categorized him as reliable.

*  Hadhrat  Abu  Haatim  (rahmatullah  alayh)  said,  “His  rank  is amongst the  rank  of the  truthful ones. He  is a reliable narrator.”

*  Imaam  Abu  Ja`far  Al  Uqaili  (rahmatullah  alayh)  says,  “There  is nothing wrong with him except his not  being a Haafiz-e-hadith).”
*  Imaam  Daar-e-Qutni  (rahmatullah  alayh)  said,  “There  is  a  flaw in  his  Hifz,  (nevertheless)  Imaam  Bukhari  and  Muslim  have narrated from him in their Saheehs.”

*  Allamah  Zahbi  (rahmatullah  alayh)  said,  “He  is  truthful”. Therefore,  Imaam  Zahbi  has accepted narrations from him.

In  Summary,  Hadhrat  Aasim  Ibn  Bahdalah  (rahmatullah  alayh)  is regarded  as  reliable  and  authentic  by  Imaam  Ahmad  Ibn  Hambal and  Imaam  Zur`ah  (rahmatullah  alayhima).  Others  regard  his narrations  as  reliable  and  worthy  of  recognition.  If  any  criticism can  be  levelled  against  him  then  the  only  one  is  that  of  a  defective Hifz,  and  nothing  else.  Merely  on  account  of  this  small  flaw,  his narrations  cannot  be  left  out  or  ignored.  He  is  not  the  only  narrator of  this  Hadith.  It  has  been  narrated  through  other  chains  as  well.  It is  incorrect  and  unjustified  to  censure  and  rebuke  Aasim  Ibn Bahdalah merely  on  account of conjecture  and rumours.

6.  Imaam  Abu  Dawood  (rahmatullah  alayh)  narrates  in  his  Sunan from  Hadhrat  Sahal  Bin  Tamaam  Ibn  Badee`  who  reports  from Imraan  Al  Qattaan,  who  reports  from  Qataadah,  who  reports  from Abu  Nasrah,  who  reports  from  Hadhrat  Abu  Saeed  Khudri (radhiyallahu  anhu)  that  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  said, “Al  Mahdi  is  from  me  (my  progeny),  (he  has  a)  broad  and illuminated  forehead  and  a  high  nose.  He  will  fill  the  earth  with justice  and  equality  just  as  it  was  filled  with  oppression  and rebellion. He  will rule  for seven years.”

Ibn  Qayyim  (rahmatullah  alayh)  states  in  Al  Manaarul  Mu-neef, “Imaam  Abu  Dawood  has  narrated  this  Hadith  through  an excellent chain.”

Baghawi  and  Albaani  have  categorized  this  Hadith  as  reliable  and authentic,  in  Masaabihus  Sunnat  and  Takhreej  Ahaadithul Mishkaat  respectively.

7.  Imaam  Ibn  Maajah  (rahmatullah  alayh)  reports  in  his  Sunan from  Muhammad  Ibn  Yahya  and  Ahmad  Ibn  Yusuf  from  Abdur Razaaq  who  reports  from  Hadhrat  Sufyaan  Thauri  (rahmatullah alayh) reports from Khaaleed Al Khudaa`i   (rahmatullah  alayh)  who  reports  from  Abi  Qulaabah,  who  reports from  Abus  Samaa`ir  Raji,  who  reports  from  Hadhrat  Thaubaan (radhiyallahu  anhu)  that  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  said, “Three  persons  will  fight  at  your  treasure  (The  Kaabah).  They  will be  the  sons  of  the  Khulafaa.  They  will  not  even  come  near  one another when black flags will be raised   from  the  east.  They  will  come  to  fight  you,  such  a  fight  that  has never  been  witnessed  before.”  The  narrator  says  that  Nabi   (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  said  something  further  which  he cannot remember. Then  Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said, “When  you  see  it  (this  army),  then  you  should  take  ba`it  to  him, even  though  you  have  to  traverse  ice  to  get  to  him,  because  he  is the Khalifah Mahdi.”

Sheikh  Abdul  Baaqi  Muhammad  Fuaad  (rahmatullah  alayh)  states in  his  Ta`leeq  Ala  Sunan  Ibn  Majah  that  Allamah  Basari (rahmatullah  alayh)  stated  in  his  Zawaa`id  Ibn  Majah  that  the chain  of  narrators  of  this  Hadith  are  reliable  and  the  personalities are  truthful.

Imaam  Haakim  (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  narrated  this  Hadith  in  his Mustadrak  and  stated  that  the  chain  of  narrators  of  this  Hadith conforms  to  the  standards  laid  down  by  the  Sheikhain  (Imaams Bukhari  and Muslim).

Allamah  Ibn  Katheer  (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  also  mentioned  this Hadith  in  his  Kitaabul  Fitan  wal  Malaahim  and  confirmed  the authenticity  and reliability  of  the  chain of narrators.

8.  Imaam  Abu  Dawood  (rahmatullah  alayh)  narrates  in  his  Sunan that  Ahmad  Ibn  Ebrahim  reports  from  Abdullah  Ibn  Ja`far  who reports  from  Abul  Maleehul  Hasan  Bin  Umar  who  reports  from Ziyaad  Bin  Ali  who  reports  from  Saeed  Ibn  Musayyib,  who  reports from  Hadhrat  Umme  Salmah  (radhiyallahu  anha)  who  reports  that she heard  Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) saying,

“Al  Mahdi  is  from  my  progeny,  from  the  children  of  Faatimah (radhiyallahu  anha).”  Ibn  Majah  (rahmatullah  alayh)  narrates  from Saeed  Ibn  Musayyib  (radhiyallahu  anhu)  who  stated,  “We  were with  Umme  Salmah  who  was  telling  us  about  Mahdi.  She  said,  ‘I heard  Rasulullah  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  saying,  ‘Al  Mahdi will be from the  children  of Faatimah.’”

This Hadith was narrated  by  Allamah Suyuti  (rahmatullah alayh) in his  Al  Jaamius  Sagheer  and  he  indicated  towards  its  reliability  and authenticity.  It  has  also  been  authenticated  and  vouched  for  by Allamah  Baghawi  in  his  Masaabehus  Sunnah  and  by  Albaani  in his  Takhreej  Ahaadithil  Mishkaat.

9.  Ibn  Qayyim  (rahmatullah  alayh)  mentions  in  his  Al  Minaarul Muneef  that  Haarith  Ibn  Usamah  (rahmatullah  alayh)  stated  in  his Musnad,  “Ismail  Bin  Abdil  Kareem  reports  to  us,  Ibrahim  Bin Aqeel  reports  to  us,  from  his  father,  from  Wahab  Bin  Munabbah, from  Jaabir  (radhiyallahu  anhu)  who  said,  ‘Rasulullah  (sallallahu alayhi  wasallam)  said,  ‘Isa  Bin  Maryam  will  descend  and  their Ameer,  Al  Mahdi,  will  say,‘Come  and  lead  the  Salaat  for  us,’  He (Hadhrat  Isa  –  alayhis  salaam)  will  reply,  ‘No,  Indeed  some  of  you are leaders over others. Allah has  honoured this  Ummat.”

Ibn  Qayyim  has  vouched  for  the  reliability  of  this  narration.  He states,  “I  have  inspected  this  Hadith  and  consulted  with  the  experts in  this  field,  and  have  concluded  that  the  beginning  to  end  of  this narration  is  cohesive.”  He  also  mentioned  that  there  is  no break/flaw  in  this  narration.  All  the  above  narrators  are  known  to the  Muhadditheen  and  their  characteristics  and  details  are  available for inspection.

The  views  of  the  senior  Aimmah  regarding  the  belief  in  Imaam Mahdi (alayhis  salaam)

Hereunder  we  will  present  a  few  views  of  the  Aimmah  with  regard to  the  Ahaadith  narrated  about  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam), wherefrom  we  can  clearly  understand  the  necessity  for  believing  in his coming.

Haafiz  Abu  Ja`far  Aqeeli  and  the  Ahaadith  of  Imaam  Mahdi (alayhis  salaam)

Haafiz-e-Hadith,  Hadhrat  Abu  Ja`far  Aqeeli  (rahmatullah  alayh) [passed  away  323  A.H.]  has  certified  the  Ahaadith  regarding Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  as  being  reliable  and  authentic. Haafiz  Ibn  Hajar  (rahmatullah  alayh)  states  in  Tahzeebut  Tahzeeb, “There  are  many  other  reliable  Ahaadith  regarding  Mahdi  besides this one  (cited by  Abu Ja`far Aqeeli  in his Kitaab)”

Haafiz Ibn  Hibbaan  Al  Busti’s respected  view

Haafiz  Ibn  Hibbaan  Al  Busti  (rahmatullah  alayh)  [passed  away  304 A.  H]  says  that  the  Hadith“An  era  will  not  dawn  over  you  except that  the  previous  one  was  worse  than  it”,  refers  specifically  to  the era  of  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  and  it  does  not  refer  to  any general  era.  Haafiz  Ibn  Hajar  (rahmatullah  alayh)  states  in  Fathul Baari,  which  is  the  commentary  of  Bukhari,  commenting  on  the narration  of  Hadhrat  Anas  (radhiyallahu  anhu),  “An  era  will  not dawn….”  —  “The  Hadith  of  Anas  (radhiyallahu  anhu)  cannot  be construed  as  a  general  one,  owing  to  the  Ahaadith  narrated regarding  Mahdi,  that  he  will  fill  the  earth  with  justice  and equality just  as it was filled with oppression and injustice.”

Allamah  Khattaabi  and  the  Ahaadith  of  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis salaam)

Allamah  Khattaabi  (rahmatullah  alayh)  states  in  commenting  on the  Hadith,  “Rasulullah  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  said, ‘Qiyaamah  will  not  dawn  upon  you  until  time  becomes  restricted, and  a  year  will  become  like  a  month  and  a  month  like  a  day”,  that this  Hadith  refers  either  to  the  era  of  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis salaam)  or  Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam),  or  it  could  refer  to  both their  eras. Hadhrat  Mullah  Ali  Qaari  (rahmatullah  alayh)  states  in  Mirqaat, which  is  the  commentary  of  Mishkaat,  that  the  era  where  both, Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  and  Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam), will  be  in,  will  be  the  one  which  will  pass  very  quickly  as  stated  in the  Hadith.  The  author  of  Tuhfatul  Ahwazi  has  also  inclined towards this  view.

Imaam  Baihaqi  (rahmatullah  alayh)  and  the  Ahaadith  of Imaam  Mahdi (alayhis  salaam)

Imaam  Baihaqi  (rahmatullah  alayh)  [passed  away  in  458  A.H.] stated  regarding  the  Hadith “There  is  no  Mahdi  except  Isaa  Bin Maryam  (alayhi  salaam)”,  that  the  Ahaadith  regarding  the  coming of  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  are  more  authentic  and  reliable. Haafiz  Ibn  Hajar  (rahmatullah  alayh)  had  quoted  this  statement  of Imaam  Baihaqi  (rahmatullah  alayh)  in  Tahzeebut  Tahzeeb.  The narrators of the  above  mentioned Hadith are  criticised.

Qaadhi  Ayaaz  (rahmatullah  alayh)  and  the  belief  on  the advent of  Imaam  Mahdi (alayhis salaam)

The  famous  Hanafi  Qaadhi,  Hadhrat  Ayaaz  (rahmatullah alayh)  [passed  away  544  A.H.]  compiled  a  separate  chapter  in  his Kitaab,  As-  Shifa,  under  the  caption  regarding  Mu`jizaat,  which  is subdivided  into  three  parts.  At  the  end  of  this  chapter,  he  stated regarding  the  prophecies  of  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  and regarding  his  being  informed  about  the  unseen.  This  is  listed  under the  caption,  “He  does  not  speak  from  his  own  desire”.  Qaadhi Ayaaz  (rahmatullah  alayh)  also  lists  a  number  of  Ahaadith regarding  the  coming  of  Imaam Mahdi (alayhis  salaam).

Imaam  Qurtubi  (rahmatullah  alayh)  and  the  belief  regarding Imaam  Mahdi (alayhis  salaam)

The  famous  Mufassir  of  the  Qur`aan  Majeed,  Hadhrat  Imaam Muhammad  Ibn  Ahmad  Ibn  Abi  Bakr  Al  Qurtubi  (rahmatullah alayh)  [passed  away  671  A.H.]  states  regarding  the  narration, “There  is  no  Mahdi  except  Isaa  Bin  Maryam  (alayhi  salaam)”  that its  chain  of  narrators  are  weak.  He  states  further  that  Imaam  Mahdi (alayhis  salaam)  will  be  from  the  progeny  of  Hadhrat  Faatimah (radhiyallahu  anha)  and  that  the  Ahaadith  regarding  the  coming  of Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  in  the  last  era  are  authentic  and reliable.  Therefore,  the  above-mentioned  narration  is  not  to  be relied  upon  and  cannot  be  used  as  a  guide,  since  there  are  other authentic  and  Mutawaatir  Ahaadith  which  abrogate  it.  He  also states  an  interpretation  for  this  narration  that  the  possible  reason for  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  having  mentioned  that, “There  is  no  Mahdi  except  Isaa  Bin  Maryam  (alayhi  salaam)”  was that  there  will  be  no  complete  and  sinless  Mahdi  (Guide)  except Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam).  Imaam  Qurtubi  (rahmatullah  alayh) states  that  this  interpretation  to  the  narration  offers  a  suitable reconciliation  between  the  various  narrations,  which  appear  to  be contradictory.

Allamah  Suyuti  (rahmatullah  alayh)  has  also  quoted  this  statement and commentary of Allamah Qurtubi (rahmatullah alayh).

Ibn  Taimiyyah  and  the  belief  of  the  coming  of  Imaam  Mahdi (alayhis  salaam)

Ibn  Taimiyyah  [passed  away  768  A.  H.]  states  in  his  Kitaab, Minhaajus  Sunnah…on  page  211,  vol.1,   “However,  that which  he  (here  he  is  referring  to  some  Shiah  scholar)  narrates  via Ibn  Umar  (radhiyallahu  anhu)  about  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi wasallam)  that  he  said,  ‘A  man  will  emerge  in  the  final  era  from my  progeny.  His  name  will  be  like  mine  and  his  title  will  be  like mine.  He  will  fill  the  earth  with  justice  just  as  it  was  filled  with oppression.  He  will  be  Al-Mahdi.”  The  answer  to  this  is  that  the Ahaadith  which  refer  to  the  coming  of  Imaam  Mahdi  are  authentic and  reliable.  Imaam  Abu  Dawood,  Imaam  Tirmidhi  and  Imaam Ahmad  Ibn  Hambal  (rahmatullah  alayhim)  have  all  narrated  such Ahaadith.  For  example,  the  Hadith  of  Hadhrat  Ibn  Mas`ood (radhiyallahu  anhu)  wherein  he  reports  from  Nabi  (sallallahu alayhi  wasallam),  ‘If  there  does  not  remain  of  this  earth  except  one day,  then  Allah  will  lengthen  that  day  until  a  man  emerges  who will be from me,  or from  my  house-hold. His  name  will correspond to  mine  and  his  father’s  name  to  my  father’s.  He  will  fill  the  earth with  justice  and  equality  just  as  it  was  filled  with  oppression  and rebellion.”  [Tirmidhi]

It  is  reported  from  Umme  Salmah  (radhiyallahu  anha)  that  Nabi (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  said,  ‘Al-Mahdi  is  from  my  progeny, from  the  offspring  of  Faatimah.”  [Abu  Dawood]. 

There  is  also  the narration  of  Hadhrat  Ali  (radhiyallahu  anhu)  who  looked  towards his  son,  Hasan  and  said,  ‘Indeed  this  son  of  mine,  as  Rasulullah (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  mentioned,  soon  a  man  will  be  borne of  him,  whose  name  will  be  the  name  as  that  of  your  Nabi.  His character  and  habits  will  be  like  his  (i.e.  Nabi  –  sallallahu  alayhi wasallam), but not  his features. He  will fill the  earth with justice.”

Ibn  Qayyim  and  the  belief  regarding  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis salaam)

Ibn  Qayyim  states  regarding  the  Hadith,  “There  is  no  Mahdi  except Isaa  Bin  Maryam  (alayhi  salaam)”  that  the  narrators  thereof  are unreliable  and  he  also  states  that  there  are  numerous  Ahaadith regarding  the  coming  of  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  that  he will  be  from  the  progeny  of  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  and that  he  will  fill  the  earth  with  justice  and  reign  for  about  seven years.  Also  that  he  will  be  reigning  at  the  time  of  the  descension  of Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam).  He  will  also  be  of  some  assistance  in the  slaying  of  Dajjaal.  He  will  also  lead  the  Salaat  for  the  Ummat, such  that  even  Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam)  will  follow  him  in Salaat.

Does The  Mahdi refer  to Hadhrat  Isa (alayhis  salaam)?

Ibn  Qayyim  states  that  the  Ahaadith  regarding  Imaam  Mahdi (alayhis  salaam)  are  of  four  types,  authentic,  reliable,  weak  and concocted.  Similarly,  there  are  four  views  regarding  the  coming  of Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  in  the  final  era.  One  of  the  views  is that  The  Mahdi  refers  to  Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam).  The proponents  of  this  view  have  used  the  above  mentioned  Hadith  as  a proof.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  even  they  have  acceded  to  the  fact  that this narration is  not 100% reliable.

Even  if  we  assume  that  this  narration  is  reliable,  still  too,  it  cannot be  used  to  refute  the  coming  of  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam). The  reason  being  that  between  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam) and  the  advent  of  Qiyaamah,  Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam)  will  be the  greatest  Mahdi  (Guide),  as  is  borne  out  by  the  various Ahaadith.  He  will  descend  on  the  east  Minaarat  of  the  Musjid  in Damascus  and  he  will  rule  in  accordance  to  the  Qur`aan  Majeed. He  will  fight  the  Jews  and  Christians  and  take  Jizya  from  them. During  his  reign  all  the  religions  will  dissipate.  It  will  be  true  to say  that  he  will  be  the  Mahdi  (guide),  and  besides  him  there  will  be no  other.  Although  there  will  be  another  man  who  will  be  Imaam Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam).  Therefore,  when  Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis salaam)  is  referred  to  as  The  Mahdi  it  implies  that  he  will  be  the perfect, complete  and sinless Guide.

Has Mahdi already passed  in  the  previous generations?

Another  view  is  that  the  Mahdi  which  is  mentioned  in  the  Ahaadith refers  to  a  ruler  from  amongst  the  Bani  Abbaas,  who  lived  in  some past  era.  In  substantiation  of  this  view,  the  proponents  have  quoted the  two  Ahaadith  which  mention  regarding  the  carriers  of  the  black flags,  who will come  from Khurasaan or the  east.

Ibn  Qayyim  has  categorized  both  these  Ahaadith  as  weak.  He  has also  cited  the  substantiating  views  of  other  Muhaditheen.  He  says that  even  if  these  narrations  are  accepted  as  true  and  reliable,  then too,  it  cannot  be  held  as  proof  that  the  Mahdi  has  already  passed  in the  previous  era  and  that  he  was  from  the  Bani  Abbaas.  He  states that  these  Ahaadith  refer  to  a  specific  person  who  will  emerge during  the  final  era.  The  term  “Mahdi”  is  also  a  general  term  which can  be  used  more  loosely  to  apply  to  many  other  personalities  as well.  For  example,  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  said,  “My Sunnat  is  binding  upon  you  and  the  Sunnat  of  the  Khulafaa Raashideen  Mahdiyeen,  those  who  come  after  me…”  This  Hadith refers  to  the  Khulafaa-e-Rashideen  as  also  being  Mahdis.  Imaam Ahmad  Ibn  Hambal  (rahmatullah  alayh)  also  stated  that  Hadhrat Umar  Bin  Abdil  Azeez  (rahmatullah  alayh)  was  also  a  Mahdi  from amongst the  Mahdis.

Ibn  Qayyim  states  that  there  is  no  doubt  that  Hadhrat  Umar  Bin Abdil  Azeez  (rahmatullah  alayh)  was  also  a  Mahdi,  but  he  is  not the  Mahdi  of  the  final  era,  who  is  referred  to  in  the  Ahaadith.  Just as  there  are  many  small  dajjaals  and  liars  besides  the  big  Dajjaal, who  is  to  come  before  Qiyaamah,  there  are  many  Mahdis  besides the actual  Imaam Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam).

Mahdi will be  in  the  final era and  from  the  Ahle  Bait

The  third  view  is  that  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  will  be  in  the final  era  and  he  will  be  from  the  progeny  of  Hadhrat  Hasan  Ibn  Ali (radhiyallahu  anhuma).  Ibn  Qayyim  states  that  this  view  is  the  best and  most  preferred  view,  which  is  substantiated  by  the  many Ahaadith  narrated  in  this  regard.  Most  of  the  Ahaadith  indicate  to the  fact  that  he  will  be  from  the  family  of  Hadhrat  Hasan  Bin  Ali (radhiyallahu  anhuma).  This  is  the  authentic  view  of  the  Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah.

Hidden  Imaam

Ibn  Qayyim  states  the  fourth  view  as  being  that  held  by  the  Shiahs that  the  Mahdi  is  their  hidden  final  Imaam  who  will  emerge  in  the final  era.  After  citing  the  various  views  regarding  the  Mahdi  of  the final  era,  he  states,  “Nevertheless,  one  of  the  views  of  the  sect  of Imaamiah  is  that  the  Mahdi  of  the  final  era  is  not  Muhammad  Ibn Abdillah,  but  Muhammad  Ibn  Hoosein  Al-Askari,  the  awaited Mahdi,  who  is  from  the  progeny  of  Hadhrat  Hoosein  Ibn  Ali   (radhiyallahu  anhu),  and  not  from  the  progeny  of  Hadhrat  Hasan Bin  Ali  (radhiyallahu  anhu). He  is  omnipresent  but  hidden  from  our sight. He  disappeared  in  his youth, with the staff of Hadhrat  Moosa (alayhis  salaam).  This  occurred  in  the  5th  century  after  Hijri.  Upto this day, he  is still  hidden.”

Ibn  Qayyim  wrote  this  around  the  year  751  A.H.  Today,  many, many  centuries  later,  the  situation  and  belief  of  the  Rawaafidh  and Shiahs  is  very  much  the  same.  It  is  quite  clear  and  evident  that  they are  astray  and  base  their  reliance  on  concocted  and  deviant narrations.

The  Jews are  also  awaiting their Messiah

Ibn  Qayyim  states  that  shaitaan  has  formulated  a  trick  on  the  Jews and  created  this  belief  amongst  them  that  a  person  from  amongst the  children  of  Hadhrat  Dawood  (alayhis  salaam)  will  emerge  and he  will  spread  the  name  and  fame  of  the  Jews  throughout  the world.  They  are  now  awaiting  this  Messiah  of  theirs.  In  fact,  they await  not  a  Messiah  of  guidance,  rather  one  of  deviation.  They await  Dajjaal.  The  Jews  will  be  the  greatest  aids  and  promoters  of The  Dajjaal.  It  will  be  due  to  this  evil  of  theirs,  that  Hadhrat  Isa (alayhis  salaam)  will  slaughter  the  Jews,  so  much  that  there  will not remain even one  on the face  of the  earth.

The  Ummat  of  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  has  this  belief that  the  Maseeh  of  the  final  era,  Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam)  will descend  and  he  will  come  to  kill  Dajjaal,  break  the  cross,  eliminate pigs and  kill his enemies,  the Jews.  

In  this  regard,  Ibn  Qayyim  states  that  the  Muslims  have  an  affinity to  the  family  of  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  and  they  await the  advent  of  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam)  who  will  spread justice  and  peace  on  earth  which  will  replace  oppression  and rebellion.
Allamah  Abul  Hasan  As-Samhudi  (rahmatullah  alayh)  and  the belief  regarding  the  emergence  of  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis salaam)

Hadhrat  Allamah  Abul  Hasan  As-Samhudi  (rahmatullah  alayh) [passed  away  911  A.H.]  states,  “From  the  established  narrations  of The  Prophet  of  the  last  era,  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam),  we deduce  that  he  (Imaam  Mahdi  –  alayhis  salaam)  is  from  the progeny  of  Hadhrat  Faatimatuz  Zahra  (radhiyallahu  anha). According  to  the  narration  in  Abu  Dawood,  he  will  be  from  the children  of Hadhrat  Hasan (radhiyallahu anhu)…”

The  view  of  Haafiz  Ibn  Hajar  (rahmatullah  alayh)  

Allamah  Ibn  Hajar  Al  Makki  (rahmatullah  alayh)  [passed  away 974  A.H.]  states  in  his  Kitaab,  Al  Qowlul  Mukhtasar  Fi  Alaamaatil Mahdi-  yil  Muntazar,  “Belief  in  the  awaited  Mahdi,  the  emergence of  Dajjaal,  the  descension  of  Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam)  and  his performing  Salaat  behind  Mahdi  are  all  established  from  reliable and  authentic  Ahaadith.  One  should  remember  this  also,  that  in whichever  Hadith  mention  is  made  of  a  leader  in  the  final  era  in close proximity  to Qiyaamah, it refers to Mahdi.”

Haafiz Ibn  Katheer  and  belief  in  Mahdi

Haafiz  Ibn  Katheer  (rahmatullah  alayh)  states  in  Al-Fitan  Wal Malaahim,  under  the  chapter  Thikrul  Mahdi  Allazi  Yakunu  Fi Aakhiriz  Zamaan  (Mention  of  that  Mahdi  who  will  emerge  in  the final  era),  that  the  Mahdi  of  the  final  era  will  be  from  amongst  the Khulafaa-e-  Raashideen  and  Aimmah-e-Mahdiyeen.  He  states  that the  Mahdi  of  the  final  era  is  not  that  Mahdi  which  the Rawaafidh/Shias  are  awaiting.  Their  belief  is  based,  not  on  any reliable  information,  but  rather  on  concocted  and  spurious narrations.  It  will  not  be  the  Muhammad  Ibn  Hasan  Al-Askari  who according  to  them  was  born  in  255  A.H.  and  who  at  the  age  of  five miraculously  disappeared, until the  present day.

We  are  speaking  here  of  that  Mahdi  who  is  described  in  the Ahaadith  of  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam).  He  will  be  born  in the  final  era,  in  close  proximity  to  Qiyaamah.  Ibn  Katheer (rahmatullah  alayh)  states  that  his  view  is  that  this  Mahdi  will appear just before  the  descension  of Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam).

Also  the  narration  of  Hadhrat  Ali  (radhiyallahu  anhu)  which  states that  it  is  he  (Imaam  Mahdi  –  alayhis  salaam)  who  will  be  born  from the  progeny  of  his  son,  Hadhrat  Hasan  (radhiyallahu  anhu)  and whose  name  will  be  like  that  of  our  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi wasallam)  and  his  father’s  name  will  be  like  that  of  Nabi’s (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) father’s name.

Ibn  Katheer  (rahmatullah  alayh)  also  indicates  towards  the  fact  that it  does  not  refer  to  anyone  from  the  Bani  Abbaas,  from  the previous  eras.  He  has  also  stated  that  the  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis salaam)  will  be  born  after  the  reign  of  the  Bani  Abbaas  and  that  he will  be  from  the  progeny  of  Hadhrat  Faatimah  (radhiyallahu  anha). He  has  also  indicated  clearly  that  Imaam  Mahdi  (alayhis  salaam) will  be  from  the  offspring  of  Hadhrat  Hasan  (radhiyallahu  anhu) and  not  Hadhrat  Hussein  (radhiyallahu  anhu),  as  is  clearly  borne out by  the narration  of  Hadhrat Ali  (radhiyallahu  anhu).

Ibn  Katheer  (rahmatullah  alayh)  narrates  a  Hadith  from  Ibn  Majah, that  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  said,  “Three  persons  will fight  at  your  treasure  (The  Kaabah).  They  will  be  the  sons  of  the Khulafaa.  They  will  not  even  come  near  one  another  when  black flags  will  be  raised  from  the  east.  They  will  come  to  fight  you,  such a  fight  that  has  never  been  witnessed  before.”  The  narrator  says that  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  said  something  further which  he  cannot  remember.  Then  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi wasallam)  said,  “When  you  see  it  (this  army),  then  you  should  take ba`it  to  him,  even  though  you  have  to  traverse  ice  to  get  to  him, because  he  is the  Khalifah Mahdi.”

Ibn  Majah  is  alone  in  reporting  this  Hadith  but  the  chain  of narrators  are  reliable  and  authentic.

BELIEF  REGARDING  THE  DEMISE  AND BURIAL OF HADHRAT ISA  (alayhis  salaam)

The  object  and  aim  of  the  return  of  Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam)  is described  in  the  Qur`aan  Majeed  and  the  Ahaadith  of  Nabi (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam).  Upon  successful  completion  of  his purpose  and  task—  the  entire  world  will  testify  to  this—  he  will leave  this  worlds  abode.  He  will  be  buried  close  to  the  grave  of  our Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  in  Madinah  Munawwarah. Hadhrat  Abdullah  Ibn  Umar  (radhiyallahu  anhu)  says  that  Nabi (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  said  that  his  brother,  Hadhrat  Isa (alayhis  salaam),  will  descend  to  earth  and  marry.  He  will  also have  children  and remain  on earth for  45  years.

“Then  he  will  die  and  be  buried  with  me,  in  my  grave  (i.e.  very close  to  Rasulullah’s  grave)  On  the  Day  of  Qiyaamah,  Isa  and  I will  rise  from  one  grave  between  Abu  Bakr  and  Umar.”  Narrated by  Ibn Jauzi in Kitaabul Wafaa. [Mishkaat, page  480]

Hadhrat  Imaam  Abu Bakr Aajari [passed away  360  A.H.], writes in a  treatise,  “Then  Isa  (alayhis  salaam)  will  pass  away.  The  Muslims will  perform  (Janaazah)  Salaat  for  him,  and  bury  him  with  Nabi (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam),  Abu  Bakr  and  Umar  (radhiyallahu anhuma).”  [As-  Sharee`,  page  381]

Hadhrat  Allamah  Muhibbud  Deen  Muhammad  Bin  Mahmood, known  as  Ibn  Najjaar,  [passed  away  643  A.H.],  writes,  quoting from  the  historians,  “There  is  a  space  on  the  eastern  side  of  his (Nabi  –  sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam)  house,  (regarding  which) Saeed  Bin  Musayyib  says  that  Isa  Bin  Maryam  will  be  buried.” [Wafaa-ul-Wafaa, page  558, vol.2]

Hadhrat  Moulana  Mullah  Ali  Qaari  (rahmatullah  alayh)  [passed away  1014  A.H.]  writes,  “Indeed  Isa  will  be  buried  on  the  side  of our  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi  wasallam),  between  him  and  Sheikhain (Hadhrat  Abu Bakr and  Umar).”  [Jam`ul Wasaa`il, page  563]

He  states  in  Sharah  Fiqhul  Akbar,  page  136,  “Indeed  he  (Isa  – alayhis  salaam)  will  be  buried  between  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi wasallam)  and  Siddiq  (Hadhrat  Abu  Bakr  –  radhiyallahu  anhu).  It is  reported  that  he  will  be  buried  after  Sheikhain.  Hence  blessed are Sheikhain that  they  are  buried between two prophets.”

From  this  it  is  established  that  Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam)  will  be buried  in  Madinah  Munawwarah  next  to  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi wasallam)  and  that  he  will  rise  up  with  Nabi  (sallallahu  alayhi wasallam) on the  Day  of  Qiyaamah.

After  the  demise  of  Hadhrat  Isa  (alayhis  salaam)  evil  will  spread slowly  onto  earth  and  gain  momentum  until  the  advent  of Qiyaamah, when it will be at its peak.

[These  many  references have  been extracted from Daarul Uloom Deoband’s monthly  magazine, Daarul Uloom  which published  the articles of Al-Ustaaz  Abdul Hasan  Ibn Ahmad  al-Ibaad and of Haafiz  Muhammad  Iqbal  Rangoon].