Al-Imam al-Mahdi, The Just Leader of Humanity

The Signs of the Appearance (Zuhur) of the Mahdi

The session began promptly at 8 p.m. at Dr. Jalali's residence. He also opened the session by asking the first question.

Dr. Jalali: Mr. Hoshyar, could you please tell us, how will the Master of the Command appear?

Mr. Hoshyar: On studying the hadith reported by the ahl al-bayt, it appears that when the world has become psychologically ready to accept the government of God and when general conditions have become favorable to the idea of the rulership of the truth, God will permit the Mahdi to launch his final revolution. He will suddenly appear in Mecca and the caller of God will announce to the world that he has alighted. A few selected individuals, whose number has been fixed to 313 in some traditions, will be the first ones to respond to his call, and will be drawn to him like iron to a magnet in that first hour of his appearance.

Imam Sadiq relates: "When the Master of the Age appears, the young among his followers (shi'a), without any prior appointment, will rouse themselves and reach Mecca that very night."[1]

At that time the Mahdi will call upon the entire world to join his movement. Those who have suffered and lost all hope that their situation could improve will rally around him and will pay allegiance to him. In a short time a vast army made up of courageous, sacrificing, and reform-seeking peoples of the world will be prepared to be led by him. Imams Baqir and Sadiq (peace be upon them), have described the Qa'im's helpers thus:

They will occupy the east and the west of the world, will bring everything under his command. Each one of these soldiers will have the power of forty strong men. Their hearts will be harder than iron pieces so much so that in their march to the goal should they encounter mountains made of iron they will overcome them with their inner strength. They will continue their struggle until God's pleasure is acquired. [2]

At that time, the imperious, sinful rulers, lacking any conscience yet sensing the threat, would come out in defense, calling out the oppositional forces made up of their own followers. But the soldiers of justice and reform, having been disgusted with the injustice and persecution of those evil forces, will take the ultimate decision of attacking them in unison and with total effort. With God's help and sanction they will wipe them out. Awe and fear will descend upon the survivors who will finally surrender to the rightful, just government.

On seeing the fulfillment of many of the signs promised in the traditions, a large number of unbelievers will turn towards Islam. Those who persist in their disbelief and wickedness shall be killed by the soldiers of the Mahdi. The only victorious government in the entire world will be that of Islam and people will devotedly endeavor to protect it. Islam will be the religion of everyone, and will enter all the nations of the world.

The Destiny of the Unbelievers

Dr. Jalali: What will happen to the unbelievers (kuffar) and those who associated partners with God (mushrikin)?

Mr. Hoshyar: From the readings in the Qur'an and the hadith literature it appears that during the Mahdi's rule the government and the power will be taken away from non-monotheistic[3] and materialistic disbelievers, and will be vested in the hands of the Muslims and other worthy people of the world. Let us, for example, look at certain verses from the Qur'an:
It is He who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that he may uplift it above every religion, though the unbelievers be averse. (Saff [61], 9)

God has promised those of you who believe and do righteous deeds that He will surely make you successors in the land, even as He made those who were before them successors, and that He will surely establish their religion for them that He has approved for them, and will give them in exchange after their fear security: 'They shall serve Me, not associating with Me anything.' (Nur [24], 54)

Yet We desired to be gracious to those that were abased in the land, and to make them leaders, and to make them the inheritors, and to establish them in the land. (Qasas [28], 4)

These passages from the Qur'an give the glad tidings of that which will come when world power and government are in the hands of the qualified and worthy believers and Muslims, and the religion of Islam ("submission to the will of God") overshadows all other religions and actually eclipses them all.

The traditions speak about the period of the Mahdi's rule and assure the believers that the forces of disbelief and hypocrisy will be annihilated from the face of the earth. Everywhere there will be a true believer in God's unity. Thus, for example, the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said:

Even if there remains one day in the life of the earth, God will bring forth a man from among my progeny whose name and character will be like mine, and whose patronymic will be Abu 'Abd Allah. Through him God will revive His religion and bring it back to its early glory. God will also endow him with victory and there will remain on earth none other than the ones who will declare the Unity of God (tawhid).

The Prophet was asked as to which of his children's descendants he would be. The Prophet struck his hand on Husayn, and said: "From his [descendants]."[4]

Imam Baqir has related a hadith in which he says: "The Qa'im and his companions will fight so much that there will no longer be those unbelievers who associate partners to God."[5]

The Destiny of Jews and Christians

Dr. Jalali: Since Jews and Christians are the followers of the heavenly books that teach monotheism, what will happen to them when the Mahdi appears?

Mr. Hoshyar: The apparent sense of some of the verses of the Qur'an seems to suggest that they will be around until the Day of Judgement occurs. God says in the Sura Ma'ida, 14:

And with those who say 'We are Christians' We took compact; and they have forgotten a portion of that they were reminded of. So We have stirred up among them enmity and hatred, till the Day of Resurrection.

In the Sura Al 'Imran, 55, He says:

When God said, 'Jesus, I will take thee to Me, and I will purify thee of those who believe not. I will set thy followers above the unbelievers till the Resurrection Day.'

Again, in Sura Ma'ida, 64, He says:

The Jews have said: 'God's hand is fettered.' Fettered are their hands, and they are cursed for what they have said. Nay, but His hands are outspread; He expends how He will. And what has been sent down to thee from Thy Lord will surely increase many of them in insolence and unbelief; and We have cast between them enmity and hatred, till the Day of Resurrection.

As you can see, the literal reading of these verses suggests that the religions of the Jews and the Christians will be around until the Day of Judgement. Some of the hadith-reports corroborate this observation. Thus, for instance, Abu Basir asked Imam Sadiq: "What will the Master of the Command do to the 'protected peoples' (ahl al-dhimma)?" The Imam said: "Like the Prophet he will negotiate terms with them, and they will pay the jizya (poll tax), while accepting their inferior position [in the Muslim society]."[6]

In another tradition Imam Baqir says:

The Master of the Command was named as the Mahdi because he will dig out the Torah and other heavenly books from the cave in Antioch. He will judge among the people of the Torah according to the Torah; among the people of the Gospel according to the Gospel; among the people of the Psalms in accordance with the Psalms; among the people of the Qur'an in accordance with the Qur'an.[7]

There are traditions that speak just the opposite of what the Qur'an and above-cited hadith speak. These traditions relate that during the rule of the Mahdi there will no other communities except the Muslims. The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and the Christians; if they accept it they will be spared, otherwise they will be killed. Thus, for example, the following tradition in which Ibn Bukayr asks Imam Rida the interpretation of the verse: "To Him submits everything that is in the heavens and the earth, in obedience and in aversion." The Imam relates:

The particular verse is revealed in reference to the Qa'im. When he appears he will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews, Christians, Sabians, and the disbelievers in the east and the west. Any one who willingly accepts Islam will be asked to pray, give alms, and perform all the obligatory acts; and any one who refuses to do so will be killed. This will continue until there remains none but a believer in and worshipper of One God everywhere on the earth.

Ibn Bukayr said to the Imam that in that case there would be far too many people who would be killed. The Imam said: "Whenever God desires something to increase or decrease He can do so."[8]

In another tradition, Imam Baqir related that God will open the east and the west for the twelfth Imam. He will put up the fight until there is no other religion than the religion of Muhammad.[9] In his commentary on the verse that says: "He (God) will manifest it (Islam), even if the disbelievers are averse to it," The Imam said: "He will do it in such a way that there will be no one left except that he will have accepted the religion of Muhammad."

Hence, there are two kinds of hadith: one in favor and the other objecting. However, it must be pointed out that those traditions that agree with the Qur'an have preponderance over those that do not, and therefore the latter must be of necessity rejected as unreliable. Accordingly, the Jews and the Christians will remain under the government of the twelfth Imam, but they will have abandoned their belief in the trinity and all forms of disbelief connected with associating partners to God, and become worshippers of One God. They will continue to live under the protection of the Islamic government. At the same time, the corrupt and tyrannical governments will come to an end, and power will be exercised by the well qualified Muslims. Islam will be the world's religion, gaining precedence over all other religions and the call of the Unity of God (tawhid) will be heard all across the world. In this connection Imam Sadiq has said: "When our Qa'im rises there is no place on earth where one will not hear the testimony: I bear witness that there is no deity except God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God."[10] According to Imam Baqir: "When the Qa'im takes the command all the godless governments will become permanently extinct." Furthermore, in explaining the verse "when they will be consolidated they will establish worship and give alms," the Imam said: "This verse was revealed to describe the Imams, the Mahdi and his loyal followers. God will make them the commanders of the east and the west, and through them God will fortify the religion and eliminate innovation and false [interpretations in it]. Indeed the ignorant people have ruined the truth. All this will be accomplished in such a way that there shall remain no trace of injustice. He will execute the duty of commanding the good and forbidding the evil."[11]

In another report Abu Basir says that he asked Imam Sadiq: "Who is the Qa'im of the ahl al-bayt?" He said:
O Abu Basir, he will be the fifth descendant of my son Musa, the son of the best among the slave girls. His occultation will be prolonged so much so that a group will fall into doubt. Afterwards God will cause him to appear and will make him conquer the entire world. Jesus, the son of Mary, will descend [from heaven] and will perform his prayer standing behind him. In that afternoon the earth will brighten up with the Light of God and all spots on earth where other than God was worshipped will become a prayer house dedicated to God. Religion will be entirely God's, even though the disbelievers may be averse to it. [12]

Engineer Madani: I recall another related topic but, since the time is running short, I will raise it when we meet next time.

The session was concluded for that evening and it was decided that the group would meet in a week's time at Dr. Jalali's residence.