Imam Mahdi’s (as) Existence: An Acknowledged Fact
There are innumerable traditions related by the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) concerning the Promised Mahdi that have been recorded by Shia as well as Sunni scholars. Then one who refers to these traditions will understand that the issue of Mahdi had gained prominence right from Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) era, and it was not something that had been introduced later by the Shias. Right from the commencement of Islam, the people were eagerly anticipating the advent of one who would establish truth, annihilate falsehood, establish Allah’s worship, fill the earth with justice and equity and rout tyranny and oppression.
This concept was so popular among the Muslims that they used to ask questions like, ‘From whose progeny will the Mahdi rise?’ What’s his real name and agnomen and as to why he is named as Mahdi? Are Mahdi and Qa’im one and the same? What is the rationale behind his occultaton? What are the duties and responsibilities of the Muslims in the period of occultation?
In reply to their queries, the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) used to reply,
‘Mahdi is from my progeny, and he will be from among the sons of Fatima (s.a.) and Husain (a.s.).’ He (s.a.w.s.) used to inform the Muslims about his name, agnomen, titles, characteristics, signs of reappearance, etc.
MAHDI IN THE VIEW OF COMPANIONS AND TABE’EEN
The discussion and deliberation on the topic of Mahdi, did not terminate after the demise of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.). On the contrary, this discussion was carried on with the same intensity by the Companions and Tabe’een (those who saw the companions but not the Prophet himself). Mentioned below are a few traditions narrated by some of the distinguished companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.):
Abu Hurairah narrates,
"People will give allegiance to Mahdi between ‘Rukn’ and ‘Maqaam’."
(Kitabul Malaahim wal Fitan, p. 46, compiled by Ibn Taoos)
Ibn Abbas used to relate to Muawiyah,
"A person from our progeny will reign over the people for a period of 40 years."
(Ibid. p. 13)
Abu Saeed inquired from Ibn Abbas, "Inform me about Mahdi?" Ibn Abbas replied,
"I expect that soon Allah will raise a youth from our progeny who will terminate all disputes and controversies."
(Ibid. p. 169)
Ibn Abbas often related,
‘Mahdi will rise from the Quraysh, and will be from among the sons of Fatima (s.a.).’
(Ibid. p. 155)
Ammare Yasir reveals,
"When Nafse Zakiyyah (pure person) will be killed, a voice from the sky will declare, ‘Your leader is so and so!’ Then Mahdi will rise and will fill the earth with justice and equity."
(Ibid. p. 44)
Once, when Abdullah b. Umar mentioned Mahdi’s name, an Arab remarked that Mahdi is none other than Muawiyah b. Abi Sufyan. Abdullah b. Umar responded,
‘That is not true. Mahdi is the one who will lead Esa (a.s.).’
(Ibid. p. 155)
Umar b. Qais inquired from Mujahid, ‘Do you know anything about Mahdi? Because I do not regard the Shias’ claims (about Mahdi) as truthful.’ Mujahid replied,
‘Their claims about Mahdi are true. I have heard from one of the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) that Mahdi will not rise until the Nafse Zakiyyah is killed. Mahdi will then rise and establish justice and equity on the earth.’
(Ibid. p. 171)
Nufayl’s daughter Umairah narrates from Hussain b. Ali’s daughter,
‘The person you eagerly await (i.e. Mahdi) will not rise until you all are so upset with each other, that you curse each other.’
(Behaarul Anwaar vol. 52, p. 211)
Abul Faraj Isfahani writes, "Hussain b. Ali’s daughter, Fatemah was proud of the fact that she was the midwife for the ladies of Bani Hashim. When her sons expressed their dislike for this job and said that ‘We don’t want you to be accounted for as among the ordinary midwives’, she replied,
‘One of my sons is missing, when I find him, I will stop doing this work.’
(Maqaatelut Taalibeen, Najaf edition, 1385 A.H. p. 160)
Qataadah narrates, "I inquired from Ibn Musayyab, ‘Is Mahdi’s existence an established fact?’ He replied in the affirmative and said,
‘He will be from the Quraysh, from among the sons of Fatemah’".
(Malaahim, p. 170)
Ibn Taoos used to often remark,
‘I wish to survive to see Mahdi’s reappearance.’
(Malaahim, p. 54)
‘Mahdi will be from the sons of Fatemah (s.a.).’
(Malaahim, p. 69)
Abul Faraj Isfahani writes that Walid b. Muhammad Mauqeri narrates,
"I was with Zohri, and we witnessed an uproar and chaos. Zohri said, ‘See what the noise about. I inquired and said, ‘They have got the head of Zaid b. Ali, who has been martyred.’
For some reason Zohri seemed very disturbed and remarked, ‘Why do the members of this family show so much haste. Indeed haste will be the cause of destruction of many from this family.’
I asked, ‘Will this family ever secure the government?’ Zohri replied,
‘Yes. Because, Ali b. Husain (a.s.) has narrated from his father (a.s.) and he from his mother Fatema (s.a.) who was told by the Prophet (s.a.w.s.), ‘The Promised Mahdi will be from your progeny.”
(Maqaatelut Taalibeen, p. 97)
Abul Faraj relates from Muslim b. Qutaybah, who narrates,
"One day I went to Mansoor, who informed me, ‘Muhammad b. Abdullah has risen and claims to be the Mahdi. But, by Allah, he can not be the Mahdi! In fact there is something that I want to tell you, that I have not revealed to anyone before, nor will I do so in the future, and that is – my son is also not the Promised Mahdi. I have only named Mahdi as a speculation."
(Maqaatelut Taalibeen, p. 167)
Ibn Sireen used to declare,
‘The Promised Mahdi will be from this nation, and he will be the one who will lead Esa b. Maryam.’
(Kitabul Haaviy al-Fataavaa, vol. 2, p. 35)
Abdullah b. Harith disclosed,
‘Mahdi will rise while he is 40 years old. His features and physique will resemble the Israelites.’
(Ibid. vol. 2 p. 149)
‘His name is Mahdi, because he receives guidance in a concealed manner.’
(Ibid. vol. 2, p. 150)
Abdullah b. Shareek asserts,
‘The Prophet’s (s.a.w.s.) standard is with Hazrat Mahdi (a.s.)’
(Ibid. vol.2, p. 150)
Ibn Taoos states,
"One of Mahdi’s characteristics is that he will be very demanding from his commanders. He will be extremely generous in matters of spending wealth and riches. He will be very benevolent and compassionate with the poor and destitute."
(Ibid. vol. 2)
‘Mahdi will be from the sons of Fatemah (s.a.)’
(Ibid. vol.2, p. 150)
Hakam b. Atiyyah relates,
"I inquired from Muhammad b. Ali (Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.)), ‘I have heard that a person from your Ahle Bayt (a.s.) will rise and fill the earth with justice and equity. Is this true?’ He (a.s.) replied, ‘Yes. Even we are awaiting the rise of such an individual.’
(Ibid. vol.2, p. 159)
Salmah b. Zafar relates,
‘One day, someone informed Huzaifa that Mahdi has risen. Huzaifa retorted, ‘If Mahdi rises in your midst while you have just passed the era of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.), and the companions of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) are in your midst, then indeed you are most fortunate. However, Mahdi will not rise until there are raging disputes and controversies among the people, and they are engaged in sins and disobedience of Allah. And no king will be loved and cherished by the people more than Mahdi.’
(Ibid. vol.2, p. 159)
Jurair recited an eulogy in front of Umar b. Abdul Aziz implying,
‘Your existence is blessed. You resemble the Mahdi in your character and personality. You resist your base desires, and pass the night in recitation of the Quran.’
(Al-Imamat was Siyaasat, Ibn Qutaybah,
3rd edition, vol. 2,p. 117)
Umme Makthum binte Wahab narrates that a lot of traditions reveal that,
"A person will rise and rule the entire world, and his name will be similar to that of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.)."
(Maqaatelut Taalibeen, 2nd edition, p. 162)