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Prophets (a.s.) with long lives and Longevity of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.)

The celebrated scholar, Syed Ibn Tawoos (may Allah sanctify his grave)[1] wrote a will for his sons Muhammad and Ali, which was published multiple times in the form of a book titled ‘Kashf al-Mahajjah le Samara al-Muhjah’. He mentions in chapter 75 of Kashf al-Mahajjah:

“…O my son, if the opportunity of unveiling the truth and secrets is conferred upon you, I will give you such information about Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) that there will never remain any doubt and you will be independent of rational proofs and traditions because he (a.t.f.s.) is certainly alive and present and till the time Allah, the Merciful, the Benevolent, does not grant him permission to unveil His plans, he is exempted from revealing and manifesting his affairs. This affair (occultation) is not confined to him but decreed for many messengers and their successors. Hence, consider this to be certain and assume it (belief in occultation) to be your religion and faith and know that your father’s recognition in this regard is brighter than his recognition of the shining sun.”

Continuing with the will in the 76th chapter he mentions:

Coincidentally, once I was present in the gathering of non-Shias and I asked them: What is your objection against Shias? Tell me without being hesitant or dissimulation (Taqiyyah) so that I may be able to answer you with my belief and views. And to do so freely, please shut the door so that no one can enter.

They said that our objections against the Imamiyyah (Shias) are: They oppose the companions of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) and address them with immoral names, they believe in Raj’at, consider temporary marriage (Mut’ah) as permissible, believe in the Imamat and longevity of Imam Mahdi (a.s.).

I answered them and said[2] that the matter concerning Imam Mahdi (a.s.) is the same because you (Sunnis) have narrated that Prophet Idris (a.s.) is alive, Hazrat Khizr(a.s.) is alive from the time of Prophet Moosa (a.s.) or even before that. Prophet Isa (a.s.) is alive and present on the sky and will return along with Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).They are all humans whose lives have been extended and there is no doubt, uncertainty or concern regarding their long lives. Then why can’t this phenomenon be repeated for someone from the progeny of Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and manifest a sign of divinity i.e. long life?

And you have mentioned a tradition regarding conditions and characteristics of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.): Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) will fill the earth with equity and justice as it would have been filled with oppression and tyranny.

If you reflect on this prophesy and prerequisite for Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.), you will agree that dissemination of justice and equity throughout the universe is more astonishing than his long life. But by the grace of Allah, it is easy for His chosen ones.

You testify and agree that the great Prophet Isa Ibn Maryam (a.s.) will pray behind him and assist him in wars. This affair is more important than long life which you doubt and consider distant.

Hence, my son, all those who were present agreed to this and accepted it.[3]

Conclusion

Syed ibn Tawoos (may his grave be sanctified) has pointed out towards the firm faith of Muslims which cannot be denied i.e. the long lives of Prophets Idris (a.s.), Khizr(a.s.) and Isa (a.s.) who are still alive.

Another aspect is that although longevity in not common it is not impossible either.

Traditions

We mention a few traditions related to longevity. These traditions are regarding those divine messengers whose lives were long. Apart from traditions, books of history have also narrated incidents of their long life. We are mentioning the details of long lives of Prophets similar to the long life of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.).

Ayatullah Lutfullah Safi Gulpaygani has narrated in his book Muntakhab al-Athar narrating from Kamaaluddeen that Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) said:

Certainly my son, after me is the Qaim and he is the one who will reappear as per the tradition (Sunnah) of Prophets (the Sunnah of the Prophets will be revived through him) i.e. longevity and occultation.[4]

This tradition is pointing towards a generic concept that Imam Mahdi (a.s.) possesses similarities with a few divine messengers. In this tradition, similarities like long life and occultation are mentioned. Our topic is not occultation hence we shall discuss only those messengers who had long lives.

The long life of Hazrat Idris (a.s.)

He was the great grandfather of Prophet Noah (a.s.). His name was Akhnookh. Allah raised him to a lofty place and it is said, he was ascended to the fourth sky and as per some traditions to the sixth sky. In Majma al-Bayan, Mujahid has mentioned that Hazrat Idris (a.s.) was raised to the skies just like Hazrat Isa (a.s.) was ascended to the sky while he was alive and not dead.

Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) said:

Allah will ascend Imam Qaem (a.s.) to the skies. Allah made Hazrat Idris (a.s.) sit on the hair of an angel and made him traverse the skies.[5]

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) mentioned in the exegesis in the verse of Surah Maryam ‘And we raised to lofty position’ the journey of Hazrat Idris (a.s.) to the skies and meeting the angel of death and narrated the incident of capturing his soul between the fourth and the fifth sky.[6]

Note

Allah made Hazrat Idris (a.s.) traverse such long distances between the skies and kept him alive for such a long duration. However, in one of the traditions of Ibn Abbas, it is mentioned that Hazrat Idris (a.s.) is alive in Paradise.[7]

The conclusion is that long life is possible if Allah wishes it for a servant.

The long life of Hazrat Khizr (a.s.)

Allah the Almighty granted Hazrat Khizr (a.s.) a very long life and he is still alive. This belief is common between Shias and Sunnis and many traditions express it. He is still alive today so that the long life of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) can be proven through his long life. Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:

Allah granted long life to his noble servant Hazrat Khizr (a.s.), not because he was a Prophet or because a book had to be revealed unto him or a shariat is initiated which overrules another shariat or to grant him the position of Imamat or make his leadership obligatory on His servants and make his obedience mandatory on them. But Allah had it in His knowledge that Imam Qaim (a.t.f.s.) will have a long life during his occultation to the extent that His servants will not believe in his long age and will deny it. Hence, Allah – Blessed and High be He – prolonged the life of the righteous servant [Hazrat Khizr (a.s.)] without any (apparent) cause, except that it be a basis for proving the age of Qaim (a.s.) so that the arguments of the deniers may be invalidated through this and that people may not have any argument against Allah.[8]

In another tradition, it is mentioned from Imam Reza (a.s.) that:

Khizr (a.s.) drank the elixir of life and will remain alive till the Day of Judgment. He comes to us regularly and salutes us. His voice can be heard but he cannot be seen and whoever mentions him then he makes himself present in that gathering and whoever amongst you remembers him he sends his greetings to them. He is present for Hajj every year and performs all the rituals of Hajj. He stays in Arafat and prays for the fulfilment of the supplications of the believers. Allah will substitute the loneliness and fear of our Qaim (a.t.f.s.) into security and will ward off his loneliness.[9]

The True Emir of Hajj

Those who have been for Hajj and those who will go for Hajj, Inshallah, should remember that Imam-e-Zamana (a.s.) is present every year for Hajj. He is present in Makkah, Mina, Arafaat, Mash’ar, Muzdalefah, Safa, Marwah, at the place of sacrifice, during circumambulation and Saee. In short, he is present at every instance. Hence, it is necessary for all pilgrims that they follow the true Emir of Hajj viz. Imam-e-Zamana (a.t.f.s.), pray for him and pray to Allah for his early reappearance. Hazrat Khizr (a.s.) prays for the fulfilment of his invocation.

The long life of Hazrat Ilyas

Hazrat Ilyas (a.s.) is alive even today and is present in the rituals of Hajj every year. Allamah Majlisi (a.r.) in his invaluable book ‘Hayaat al-Quloob’ brings three traditions that clearly prove that Hazrat Ilyas(a.s.) has been granted a long life. One tradition is narrated by Imam Mohammad Taqi (a.s.) who has narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.)who in turn narrates this incident from his father Imam Baqir (a.s.) that he and Imam Sadiq (a.s.) have met Prophet Ilyas (a.s.) in a house near the mount of Safa. In this tradition, there is a discussion between Imam Baqir (a.s.) and Hazrat Ilyas (a.s.) regarding the knowledge of Allah, knowledge of Messengers and knowledge of successors. At the end of the tradition, Imam Baqir (a.s.) said to Hazrat Ilyas (a.s.),

‘We too (like the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)) do not manifest our knowledge as we know that people will not obey us and we are not permitted from the side of Allah to fight against them. I wish that you see that era when the Mahdi of the nation reappears, angels annihilate the progeny of Dawood, punish the past disbelievers in the air and crush the mouth and teeth of others who think like them. He (Ilyas) drew his sword and said that this sword is from those swords (which will be used against those disbelievers) and I am from his (a.s.) helpers.’[10]

Similarly, Allamah Majlisi (a.r.) has mentioned in the exegesis of Imam Hasan (a.s.) that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) mentioned to Zaid Ibn Arqam: Khizr(a.s.) and Ilyas (a.s.) meet each other in every Hajj.[11]

Reminder

It is evident from both these traditions that Hazrat Ilyas (a.s.) is not only alive but he is awaiting the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) and will fight the enemies of Allah.

The long life of Hazrat Isa (a.s.)

All Muslims believe in the long life of Hazrat Isa (a.s.) and that he (a.s.) will descend from the sky after the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) and recite prayers under his leadership. Many traditions have been quoted under this context in various issues of Al Muntazar.

The Jews and the Christians believe that Hazrat Isa (a.s.) has been killed but Allah has belied them and declared:

He was neither killed nor crucified but it appeared to them so (like Isa).[12]

As if Allah has condemned the deniers of the long life of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) that you are denying My clear proof as well.

Today, the age of Hazrat Isa (a.s.) is more than 2000 years.

The long life of Hazrat Adam (a.s.)

Shaikh Saduq (a.r.) in his book Kamaluddin has narrated from Imam Zainul Aabedeen Ali Ibn Husain (a.s.) that:

In our Qaem (a.s.), there are similarities of messengers …. As for the similarity with Hazrat Adam (a.s.) and Hazrat Nooh (a.s.), it is his long life.[13]

We shall first discuss about Hazrat Adam (a.s.)

Allamah Majlisi(a.r.) has narrated many traditions under the context of the death, life, place of burial of Hazrat Adam (a.s.) and advices to his son Shees (Hebatullah). It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said that the holy life of Hazrat Adam (a.s.) was 929 years.[14]

Sayed ibn Tawoos (r.a.) has written about Suhuf-e-Idris (a.s.) that Hazrat Adam (a.s.) was in fever for ten days. He passed away on Friday, 15th Muharram and was buried in the cave of mount Abu Qubais facing the Qibla. His age then was 1030. A year and 15 days later Janabe Hawwa (a.s.) fell ill and passed away. She was buried next to him.[15]

Sayed ibn Tawoos (r.a.) reports that I had seen in the third chapter of Old Testament that the age of Hazrat Adam (a.s.) was 930 years.

Is Hazrat Adam (a.s.) buried in Makkah or Najaf?

Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:

When Noah (a.s.) was in the ark, Allah ordered him to circumambulate the Holy Kaaba seven times. When he completed the circumambulation, he alighted from the ark. At the time, the water had reached up to his thighs. There, a coffin was found that had bones of Hazrat Adam (a.s.) and it was kept in the ark. The ark circumambulated the Ka’bah again and departed till it reached Kufa where Allah ordered the earth to soak in all the water just like how it began from the Mosque (of Kufa). Then Noah (a.s.) was buried in this coffin in Najaf.[16]

Allamah Majlisi (a.r.) says that it is proven through traditions that Prophets Adam (a.s.) and Noah (a.s.) are buried in Najaf al-Ashraf. Hence, the traditions that mention that Hazrat Adam (a.s.) was buried in Makkah and those which mention that he is buried in Najaf are on the basis that he was first buried in Makkah and then in Najaf.

Conclusion

Hazrat Adam’s (a.s.) age was more than 900 years and Janab Hawwa was also around the same age.

The long life of Hazrat Shees (a.s.)

Imam Hasan (a.s.) said: The first person to be raised as a Prophet after Hazrat Adam (a.s.) was Shees (a.s.) and he lived for 1,000 years.[17] Allamah Majlisi (a.r.) narrates that many scholars of history have narrated that Shees(a.s.) was born when Hazrat Adam (a.s.) was 235 years old and his (Shees’) age was 912 years.[18]

The long life of Prophet Noah (a.s.)

Prophet Noah (a.s.) is called as Shaikh al-Anbiya (Oldest of the Prophets). It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) and Imam Hadi (a.s.) that the age of Hazrat Noah (a.s.) was 2,500 years. Imam Qaim (a.s.) is the last of the successors and as per Shia narrations, he was born in the year 255 A.H. Hence his holy age on 15 Shabaan 1436 A.H. is 1181 years which is not even half of Noah’s (a.s.) age. The Holy Quran has mentioned the period of propagation and guidance of Noah (a.s.) as 950 years.

“And certainly We sent Noah to his people, so he remained among them a thousand years save fifty years. And the deluge overtook them, while they were unjust.”[19]

The verse after this mentions ‘So We delivered him and the inmates of the ark’

It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.), “Noah(a.s.) lived for 2,500 years – he was raised a Prophet 850 years before the deluge, stayed among his people for 950 years, took 200 years to build the ark and survived 500 years after the deluge. When the water dried up, he laid the foundation of cities and settled his children there. After the passage of 2,500 years, the angel of death came to him while he was sitting under the sun. He said: Peace be upon you. Noah (a.s.) replied to the salutation and asked ‘O Angel of Death! Why have you come?’ He said to take your soul. He (a.s.) asked, “Can you permit me that I go from sunlight into shade?’ He granted permission and Noah (a.s.) came from the light to the shade and said ‘O Angel of Death!  My (long) life in this world was like coming from sunlight to the shade (i.e. it has passed so fast). Now act upon whatever you have been commanded. The Angel of Death took away his soul.”[20]

Reminder

The above mentioned verse of Holy Quran and the tradition prove that Noah(a.s.) lived for 2,500 years.

[1]     His full name was Raziuddin Abu al-Qasim Ali and was famous by the title Syed ibn Tawoos. He was born in Hilla, Iraq in 589 A.H., died in Baghdad in 664 A.H. and is buried in the mausoleum of Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) in Najaf.

 

[2]     Syed ibn Tawoos (r.a.) briefly answered the objections regarding the companions, the belief of Raj’at, and temporary marriage on the basis of Shia faith. However, since these are not pertaining to our topic we shall not mention them here.

 

[3]     For more details please refer ‘Barnaamah-e-Sa’adat’ Persian translation of Kashf al-Mahajjah, pp. 73-77, chapter 74 to 76

 

[4]     Muntakhab al-Athar, part 2, chapter 30, p. 274, H. 1

 

[5]     Mikyaal al-Makaarim (Persian) vol. 1, p. 200 narrated from Tafseer Majma al-Bayaan, vol. 6, p. 519

 

[6]     Tafseer al-Qummi by Ali ibn Ibrahim Qummi (r.a.) (exp. 304 or 306 A.H.) vol. 2, p. 51

 

[7]     Mikyaal al-Makaarim, vol. 1, p. 200

 

[8]     Mikyaal al-Makaarim, vol. 1, p. 216 narrated from Kamaaluddin, vol. 2,p. 357

 

[9]     Kamaaluddin, vol. 2, p. 357, Chap. 33 under tradition 53

 

[10]    Hayaat al-Quloob, Urdu, vol. 1, pp. 564-565, chap. 16 under the tradition of Imam Muhammad Taqi (a.s.)

 

[11]    Hayaat al-Quloob, Urdu, vol. 1, p. 566

 

[12]    Surah Nisa (4): Verse 157

 

[13]    Kamaaluddin, vol. 1, p. 322, chap. 31, H. 3

 

[14]    Hayaat al-Quloob, Urdu, vol. 1, pp. 146-147

 

[15]    Hayaat al-Quloob, Urdu, vol. 1, pp. 146-147

 

[16]    Hayaat al-Quloob, Urdu, vol. 1, p. 146. The difference between Hazrat Adam and Hazrat Nooh was 1500 years

 

[17]    Hayaat al-Quloob, Urdu, vol. 1, p. 147

 

[18]    Hayaat al-Quloob,Urdu, vol. 1, p. 147

 

[19]    Surah Ankaboot (29): Verse 14

 

[20]    Hayaat al-Quloob,Urdu, vol. 1, p. 147