Discussion of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) on the Arsh
Certain conclusions derived from historical events and incidents not only astonish the conscious-minded, the righteous and the knowledgeable, rather, these make them see rays of a firm divine plan or movement which makes man debase himself, his forehead in prostration in front of the Needless Creator, in confession of His Infinite Power and Authority.
It seems beyond intellect and rationale that on one side is the matter of human guidance and on the other is the contamination of the environment in the Arabian Peninsula after the martyrdom of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Conditions had become even more wretched when compared to the days of ignorance (Jahiliyya). On one hand, there were a handful of companions, trained by the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and on the other hand, there was the multitude of helpers (Ansaar) and the migrants (Muhajireen). That is why Ameerul Momeneen Ali (a.s.) had said, ‘This caliphate is like a she-camel and I have left its reins to itself (i.e. allowed it to go wherever it wants).’
At times one could hear the complaints of Janabe Fatema Zahra (s.a.) in Masjidun Nabawi on the usurpation of her father’s legacy (Fadak), and at other times, one could see her in the darkness of night, in the House of Grief (Baitul Huzn) lamenting over her father’s (s.a.w.a.) demise. Then again on occasions, one witnesses the successor and brother of Allah’s Prophet (s.a.w.a.) – Ali (a.s.), being dragged with a rope in his neck and then one could see his house being set aflame. Those in the forefront of this repression and tyranny were the ones who had lived their lives in the company of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Why such a dramatic change of attitude? This question itself raises many other related queries. For instance, how did the Muslims ignore the immaculate and brilliant traditions that are termed as Hadithe Qudsi (divine traditions)? These traditions that are attributed to Allah Himself, are the best means of guidance and appeal to man’s intellect. These traditions elaborate the irrefutable truthfulness of the Holy Quran and along with it, illumine the path for his deliverance. Even in these divine traditions (Ahadithe Qudsi) the successorship of Allah’s greatest Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has been clearly outlined and defined for the people. If only the people had referred to these traditions, the Muslim community would not have been afflicted with such devastating disputes and conflicts. If they had merely adhered to these holy words, they would have fulfilled the wishes of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and would have gained Allah’s proximity and satisfaction.
Alas! The refusal to submit to these brilliant traditions was one of greatest tragedies to distress Islam. They were revealed by Allah the Almighty to His Noble Prophet (s.a.w.a.), are explicit in their implication and leave no room for any refutation or misinterpretation.
The most significant and resilient belief of the Shias is the concept of Imamat. But today we see that the Islamic community in general has dealt with the topic of the Promised Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) with some injustice by not giving it the place it deserves in Islam. They have breached the trust vis-?-vis this belief, with the result that a large section of the Muslim population is either unaware of this belief or at least, are not well informed about it. Imam Mahdi’s (a.t.f.s.) birth, his holy existence, his glorious personality, his leadership, his successorship of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), his protection of Islam and the Majestic Quran – all these facets are never mentioned to the Muslims. It is a miracle that despite this wide-scale unawareness, the brilliant personality of Imam (a.t.f.s.) glows in the darkness of ignorance. It is among the miracles of Allah the Almighty that He has kept His last proof concealed, yet has made it impossible for men of understanding and intellect to deny his existence.
We shall quote Hadithe Qudsi so that those who believe in Tauheed (Unity of Allah), Prophethood and Imamat understand that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) left no stone unturned in introducing his last successor to the Muslims.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) frequently explained to the Arabs and reminded them about Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). In addition to the Quran, he (s.a.w.a.) showed them proofs from other divine scriptures to establish Imam’s (a.t.f.s.) advent. However, the Arabs were indeed wretched that after listening to all the traditions and seeing all the proofs, they ignored the advent of Imam (a.t.f.s.) and exchanged their hereafter for this world.
The Noble Quran in the very first verse of Surae Asraa, declares:
“Glory be to Him Who made His servant to go on a night from the Sacred Mosque to the remote mosque of which We have blessed the precincts so that We may show to him some of Our signs.”
It is apparent that after the incident of ascension (Me’raj), the companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) would have asked him about his experience in minute details. And it is also apparent that on every occasion, the Prophet (s.a.w.a) would have described the incident involving his successors. It is indeed miraculous how such prophetic traditions found their way in books of traditions after the total ban on narration of prophetic traditions during the reign of the first three caliphs.
For instance Alqamah b. Qais narrates: ‘Ameerul Momeneen (a.s.) recited the sermon of Loloah in front of us.. One person by the name of Aamir b. Kathir who was seated in the gathering rose and asked Ameerul Momeneen (a.s.), ‘Inform me about the evil leaders of the disbelievers. Then inform me about the righteous leaders of the truthful ones who will succeed you in Imamat.’
Ameerul Momeneen (a.s.) replied, ‘This is the position which the Prophet (s.a.w.a) conferred on me. He (s.a.w.a) informed me that there would be twelve pure and immaculate personalities who would occupy this position (of Imamat). Of these, nine would be from the lineage of Imam Husain (a.s.). The Prophet (s.a.w.a) informed me:
‘When I was taken around the heavens, I happened to glance at the foot of Arsh (Throne). I observed that it was engraved on the foot of the Throne –
‘There is no god other than Allah. Mohammad is the prophet of Allah. I have supported him through Ali.’
Then I witnessed twelve lights. I asked Allah:
‘O my Lord, what are these lights?’ It was told to him (s.a.w.s), ‘O Mohammad these are the lights of the Imams from your progeny.’
Then Ameerul Momeneen (a.s.) narrates,
“I asked the Prophet (s.a.w.s), ‘Can you inform me about their names?’ The Prophet (s.a.w.a) revealed, ‘O Ali, you will succeed me. You alone shall pay my debts and fulfill my vows. (Then the Prophet (s.a.w.a) revealed the names of each and every successor as till Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.)). Then your son Hasan Askari (a.s.) will succeed Ali Naqi (a.s.) and will be renowned with the title of ‘Ameen’. Hasan Askari (a.s.) will be succeeded by his son Qaem (a.s.) who will have the same name as I have and will resemble me. He will fill the earth with peace and equity, as it would be fraught with oppression and inequity.’ (Kifaayatul Asar, p. 213-219, The same tradition can also be found in Behaarul Anwaar)
On the same lines, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) also narrates from his forefathers that when the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) ascended to the heavens for Me’raj, he (s.a.w.a) informed,
‘My Lord ordered me to raise my head. When I did so, I saw the radiant light of Ali (a.s.), Fatema (a.s.), Hasan (a.s.), Husain (a.s.), Ali b. Husain (a.s.), Muhammed b. Ali (a.s.), Jafar b. Muhammed (a.s.), Moosa b. Jafar (a.s.), Ali b. Moosa (a.s.), Muhammed b. Ali (a.s.), Ali b. Muhammed (a.s.), Hasan b. Ali (a.s.) and Muhammed b. Hasan – al-Qaem (a.s.). I witnessed that the name of the last Imam was like a brilliant, shining star among all other Imams (a.s.).’
Then the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) asked Allah,
‘Whose names are these?’
Allah, the High, replied,
‘These are the names of the caliphs of Islam. They are the ones who will make permissible what I have made permissible and will prohibit what I have made forbidden.’ (Kamaaluddin, vol.1, p. 252, Ch. 23, tradition 2)
Imam Ali Reza (a.s.) narrates from his ancestors (a.s.) that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) related:
When I ascended the heavens (Me’raj) I asked, ‘O my Lord, who are my successors?’ I heard a voice exclaim – Their names are inscribed on the foot of the Throne. When I glanced towards the Throne, I witnessed twelve rays of resplendent light. Each light was radiating in a ray of green light. The names of the twelve Imams (a.s.) were engraved on the Throne. That the last Imam would be the Mahdi of my nation was also mentioned.’ (Kamaaluddin, vol.1, p. 254, Ch. 23, tradition 4; Yanaabiul Mawaddah, p. 486)
Umme Salma (a.r.) relates that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed that,
‘When I ascended the heavens I asked, O Allah, what is this light that I see? Who does it belong to? Allah replied, O Muhammed, this is the light of Ali (a.s.) and Fatema (s.a.), and the other light is that of Hasan (a.s.) and Husain (a.s.). That light that you see is of the Caliphs of your nation who will be from the progeny of Husain (a.s.). The light at the end is of the ‘Hujjat’ who will establish justice and equity on the earth.’ (Kifaayatul Asar, p. 185-186; Behaarul Anwaar, vol. 36, p. 348)
(Note: In the night of Ascension the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has mentioned the name of his last successor explicitly on several occasions. Over here we have narrated only a few instances for our readers for the sake of brevity, otherwise there is no scarcity of traditions highlighting the name of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) as Allah’s final Hujjat on the earth.)
As explained above, the matter of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) successorship has been established beyond doubt in the night of Ascension. Similarly there are many divine traditions (Ahadith-e-Qudsi) like Hadith-e-Lauh that announce the successors of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), ending with the name of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.). Such traditions underline the fact that these leaders alone would guide the Muslims after the Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
Jaabir b. Abdullah Ansari (r.a.) recounts, ‘I visited the house of Janabe Fatema Zahra (s.a.) on the birth of Imam Husain (a.s.). At her house, I happened to catch a glimpse of a tablet (Lauh) that was green like emerald. When I glanced upon its contents, I saw that the writing was white as if written in light. When I asked Janabe Fatema Zahra (s.a.) about the tablet, she remarked: O Jaabir, my Lord has presented this tablet to me. It has in it the names of my father (s.a.w.a.), my husband and both my sons (a.s.) It also has the names of my sons, who will succeed the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). Janabe Zahra (s.a.) offered the green tablet to Jaabir (r.a.) who took it from her and rubbed it against his face (for blessing).’
Many years later, Jaabir (r.a.) related this incident to Imam Mohammad Baaqir (a.s.). Imam (a.s.) told Jaabir (a.s.), ‘Show me your copy of the tablet.’ Jaabir (r.a.) brought a parchment made of thin deerskin. He said, ‘I take Allah the Almighty as a witness that I have recorded exactly what I saw on the green tablet with Janabe Fatima Zahra (s.a.).’
While Hadith-e-Lauh mentions the name and characteristics of every Imam (a.s.), we have highlighted below the relevant statements pertaining to Imam (a.t.f.s.).
‘…after that I shall raise Hasan Askari (a.s.) from your (Imam Ali Naqi (a.s.)) progeny. He shall be the treasurer of My knowledge. After him, I shall bring forth his son M H M D (Arabic), who will be mercy for the world. He shall take this world to its perfection. He shall have with him the inspiring awe of Moosa (a.s.), the command of Esa (a.s.) and the patience of Ayyub (a.s.). He will be the leader of My friends and slaves. His occultation will be an adversity upon My friends. Their heads will be sent as gifts, just like the heads of Turks and Dailimites are presented as gifts (by the apostates of that time). They will be killed, burnt and will live in perpetual fear. The earth will be coloured with the blood of these innocent ones and this will raise the shrieks and complaints of their women. Surely they are My friends and beloved ones. For their sake I will rectify every dispute raging on the earth (through My last Proof). I will make steadfast, their trembling feet. I will ward off their calamities and adversities. May Allah have mercy upon them, they are the rightly guided ones.’ (Jaameul Akhbaar, Al-Jawaaherus Saneeyyah, Irshadul Quloob)
There is another narration reported by Abu Mufazzal in five different versions on the authority of Aiyesha. She narrates, ‘There was a room in my house which had a stone. Whenever the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) wished to converse with Jibrail (a.s.), he (s.a.w.a.) used to sit on that stone. Once the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) was engaged in a conversation with Jibrail (a.s.). Earlier he (s.a.w.a.) had left instructions that no one was supposed to disturb him (s.a.w.a.) in the room. After a while Husain b. Ali (a.s.) entered the house and went directly to his respected grandfather (s.a.w.a.). I was engaged in some work and did not see Husain (a.s.) enter, so I could not stop him. When Jibrail (a.s.) saw Husain (a.s.), he asked the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), ‘Who is he?’ The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) replied, ‘He is my son Husain.’ Then Jibrail (a.s.) informed the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) about Imam Husain’s (a.s.) martyrdom and even showed him (s.a.w.a.) the land of Karbala where Imam (a.s.) would be martyred. Jibrail (a.s.) gave the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) some earth from the land of Karbala. On hearing about the heart-rending incident of Karbala, the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) wept excessively. Jibrail (a.s.) consoled the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) thus, ‘Don’t cry. Don’t grieve. The ninth son from Husain’s (a.s.) progeny will be the Qaem, who will avenge his martyrdom. He (Qaem) will be the son of Hasan Askari (a.s.). Through him, Allah will manifest His good word, truthful tongue and the evident truth. (And Allah declared – he will be My Proof over My creatures.) (Kifaayatul Asar, Behaarul Anwaar, Abqareeyul Hesaan)
It is recorded in Beharul Anwar, Iqbalul A’maal, Abqareeyul Hesaan, that Sayyid b. Tawoos (r.a.) in a detailed explanation, reports from Sahifa-e-Ibrahim: Ibrahim (a.s.) glanced at the last Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and saw Hazrat Ali (a.s.) next to him. Similarly Ibrahim (a.s.) witnessed all the fourteen infallibles and was introduced to them by Allah. Finally Allah introduced Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) thus:
‘He is My Promised One, through whom My Mercy shall reach every dwelling-place, and through him, I shall adorn My virtuous servants. I shall do this at a time when the despair and hopelessness of My servants reaches its peak, and when they begin to feel that I will no longer heed their supplications.’
‘Then when you remember Mohammad and invoke blessings upon him, also remember My successors and invoke blessings upon them.’
Abdullah b. Sulaiman, a great scholar with authority over divine scriptures, narrates: (we have only mentioned the portion relevant to Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.))
Hazrat Esa (a.s.) asked,
‘O Allah what is ‘Tooba’?
A voice replied, ‘It’s a tree that encompasses the entire Paradise. I Myself have nourished it and have watered it with the stream of Tasneem. This is the stream, coolness of which is Camphor, and as delicious as dry ginger. If one drinks one glass from it, he shall never experience thirst again.’
Hazrat Esa (a.s.) requested Allah,
‘O My Lord, give me some water from this stream.’
Allah the Almighty replied, ‘A drink from this stream is prohibited for mortals, until My beloved Prophet (s.a.w.a.) drinks from it first. O Esa, I shall raise you to the heavens and you will reside here until the last age, when I will make you descend on the earth once again, so that you may see the exalted and glorious personality of this nation, and contend with Dajjal along with him. I will make you descend on the earth when it is time for prayers (namaz) and you will make way for him to lead the prayers. Indeed this is the nation on which I have bestowed My mercy.’ (Kamaaluddin, vol1, p. 261, tradition 18, Amaali of Sheikh Saduq (r.a.)) In addition to the traditions mentioned above, it is also necessary for us to refer to the tradition of the covenant. Imam Mohammad Baqir (a.s.) narrates,’Allah, the High, took the covenant from the Prophets (a.s.) – ‘Am I not your Lord? Is Mohammad (s.a.w.a.) not My Prophet? Is Ali (a.s.) not the commander of the faithful?’ All the prophets (a.s.) testified to the covenant. This covenant proves the successorship of the Imams (a.s.) after the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
After this, Allah took the covenant from the Ulul Azm Prophets (a.s.):’I am your Lord. Mohammad is My prophet. Ali (a.s.) is the commander of the faithful. And after him, My successors shall be the obedient ones, who will be the manifestation of My knowledge. And the Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) is the one with whose strength and might, I shall reform My religion. Through him I shall manifest the beauty of My Essence. Through him, I shall avenge My enemies, and make My worship prevail across the corners of the world, so that only My reign is supreme. And all this will definitely happen, regardless of whether the people are satisfied with it or are unsatisfied.’