In this study, we shall talk about some special specifications
of Imam Mahdi which are questionable for a majority of Sunnis. Imam
Mahdi's Identification:Shia believe that Imam Mahdi is the only son
of Imam Hasan al-Askari (the 11th Imam) who was born on 15th of Sha'ban
255/869 in Samarra, Iraq. He became the God-appointed Imam when his
father was martyred in 260/874. Imam Mahdi went into occultation
(disappearance; leaving among people while they can't recognize him) at
the same time. He will re-appear when Allah wills. More specifically:
His title is "al-Mahdi" which means "The Guided One."
His name is Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan (AS).
lineage, traced back to al-Imam Ali (AS), is: Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan Ibn
Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ali Ibn Musa Ibn Ja'far Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ali Ibn
al-Husain Ibn Ali Ibn Abi Talib (AS).
On the other hand, the majority
of Sunnis are not so sure that he has been born yet. They believe he
will be born some time before his mission. The name of Imam Mahdi is
Muhammad (which is the same as what Shia believe). There is however one
single Sunni report which adds that the name of the father of Imam Mahdi
is Abdullah. Now let us see what is the argument of each side:
Sunnis question Shia that how a five year old boy can become an Imam
for the people? And why attribute all this importance to him?
we must question whether or not in the history of religion, the
phenomenon of young leaders has a parallel. Undoubtedly, there is. The
Quran strikes two examples which are worthy of mentioning:We have the
example of Jesus (AS) who became Prophet and spoke people when he was a
baby in the cradle:
she pointed to the baby. They said: `How can we talk to one who is a
CHILD in the cradle?' He said: `I am indeed a servant of Allah.He
HAS GIVEN me Scripture and ASSIGNED me a Prophet, and He has made me
blessed wherever I be, and has enjoined on me Prayer and zakat as long
as I live.'"(Quran 19:29-31)
Jesus (AS) became Prophet and received revelation and book while he was
less than two years old!Furthermore, in few verses before, Quran
mentions the case of Prophet Yahya (John), to whom Allah (SWT) said:"`O
Yahya! Take hold of the Book with might:' And We gave him the
appointment (of prophethood) in his CHILDHOOD." (Quran 19:12)
So if a two-year old boy can become a prophet and receives revelation, then why can not a
five-year old boy become Imam?
you ever heard of prodigies? They are kids between the ages of four to
18 that exhibit signs of exceptional skills that are usually found in
highly qualified adults only. Here are some examples from history:"John
Stuart Mill (1806-73), a 19th-century English philosopher and
economist, advocated utilitarian reforms in his many writings and as
member of Parliament. A child prodigy, Mill had mastered Greek by the
age of 7 and studied economics at the age of 13. His works express his
social thought with great clarity and thoroughness. (The Bettmann
"The French thinker, mathematician, and scientist Blaise
Pascal, b. June 19, 1623, d. Aug. 19, 1662, has been credited not only
with imaginative and subtle work in geometry and other branches of
mathematics, but with profoundly influencing later generations of
theologians and philosophers. A prodigy in mathematics, Pascal had
mastered Euclid's Elements by the age of 12. Pascal invented and sold
the first calculating machine (1645)."
"Wolfgang was the greatest
musical child prodigy who ever lived. He began composing minuets at the
age of 5 and symphonies at 9."
"Beethoven's own talent was such that
at the age of 12 he was already an assistant to the organist Christian
Gottlob Neefe, with whom he studied.""Sarah Caldwell, born
Maryville, Mo., Mar. 6, 1924, is a conductor and producer. A child
prodigy in both mathematics and music, before reaching the age of ten."
not exhaustive, the list serves the purpose of demonstrating that this
phenomenon occurs naturally among normal human beings from all walks of
life. So scientifically speaking, it is quite possible that a child
demonstrates abilities that adults can not. Also religiously speaking
anything Allah desires will happen no matter how strange. Indeed Allah
(SWT) asserts unequivocally in Quran that if He wanted something, all He
has to do is to say to it: "Be! and it will be!".
Every body is mortal. How can he live so long?
in fact Imam Mahdi will die too. But the difference is the length of
life in this world. In fact Quran and the prophetic traditions tell us
that some people have had/are having long life in this world. So it is
possible to see this phenomena again.Are you aware that according to
the Quran (see 29:14), Prophet Noah has just been prophet for 950
years? In fact, he was alive even more than that because we should add
his age before prophethood to the above number. Who knows how much it
Do you agree that Prophet Jesus (AS) is still alive? He is in
fact 1,994 years old now. Of course, he is not living on Earth right
now; he is living in the Heavens. But according to Muslim's belief, he
will come back to Earth, and will pray behind Imam al-Mahdi (AS).
you agree that al-Khidr (AS) is still alive? Quran mentions his story
with Moses (AS). He existed before the birth of the Prophet Moses (AS),
so al-Khidr (AS) is now more than 3000 years old. He lives right here on
this Earth, but we can not recognize him (fairly similar to the case of
Imam Mahdi). He serves Allah (SWT) as one of His agents.
Allah has the ability to give a very long life, but He also has assigned
a death time for every body (including the above mentioned individuals)
which can be so soon or so late.
Moreover, scientifically speaking,
there are NO objections whatsoever to the extended life span assertion. A
group of scientists conducted a series of experiments at the
Rockefeller Institute in New York in 1912 on certain "parts" of plants,
animals, and humans. These scientists included Dr. Alex Carl, Dr. Jack
Lope, and Dr.
Warren Lewis and his wife, among others. Among the
experiments conducted was one that directly treated the nerves, muscles,
hearts, skin, and kidneys of human beings. These organs were not in a
human body, they were independent organs that were perhaps donated for
the experiment. It was concluded by the scientists that these "parts or
organs" CAN continue to live almost indefinitely as long as they are
nourished properly, and as long as they are shielded from external
negative interactions like microbes and other obstacles that might
inhibit the growth of these organs; furthermore, the assertion was made
that the cells would continue to grow normally under the above
conditions, and that the growth is directly related to the nourishment
provided. Again, aging had no effect on these organs, and they grew
every year without any signs of deterioration or aging. The scientists
concluded that these organs will continue to grow as long as the
patience of the scientists themselves is not exhausted, causing them to
abandon the nourishment process.
Where is Mahdi (AS) right now? Is he in cave?
Mahdi disappeared in 260/874 when he became Imam. The last time that he
was seen, was in the cellar of his father's house in Samarra, Iraq.
That is what is rumored regarding Shia that they believe Mahdi is in the
Shia do NOT believe that Imam Mahdi is in the Cave or
Cellar! He was just seen there for the last time. He can be anywhere
Allah wishes. However one thing is clear is that he lives on the earth
among people while people around him do not perceive.
regards to the occultation of al-Mahdi (AS), the Quran does NOT rule out
such an occurrence at all. Again, the examples of Jesus (AS) and
al-Khidr (AS), who are both in occultation, are worthy of mentioning.
about his mother? Provided that Shia is right in their assertion that
al-Mahdi's (AS) mother was a slave or bondwoman, isn't it shameful that
he (AS) should be born to a slave-girl?
answer would be in the form of the following questions: Wasn't Hagar
(AS), the Prophet Abraham's wife, a bondwoman? Did she not bear Isma'il
(Ishmael) (AS), whom the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HF) is a direct
descendant of? If it is acceptable for the Prophet Muhammad
(PBUH&HF), the Seal of Prophethood, to be a descendant of Isma'il
(AS) who was born to a bondwoman, then why not al-Mahdi (AS)?
to mention that the birth of al-Mahdi (AS) was an event surrounded with
secrecy, because the authorities (The Abbasids) knew that the Mahdi who
is to bring about a revolution is going to be the son of Imam Askari,
and were awaiting his coming, to capture him for execution. Owing to
that, Imam Hasan Askari (AS), the Mahdi's father, could not behave
conspicuously by revealing who the mother of the Mahdi (AS) was. The
Imam Mahdi's mother was Narjis and was a roman slave who married to Imam
al-Askari (AS). Notwithstanding, what has created the confusion among
the critics of Shia is the fact that Imam al-Askari (AS) did not refer
to her (AS) with one name.
A variety of names were used in an effort to
fool the authorities, and to prevent them from recognizing who she was.
That was part and parcel of the plan to protect the Mahdi (AS). Had the
father (AS) been slightly negligent in protecting his son, it is clear
that al-Mahdi (AS) would not have survived. The story of birth of Imam
Mahdi is like that of the Moses. All the women were being regularly
inspected by female specialists of Abbasids to find out if anybody is
pregnant. The Imam Mahdi's mother did not have any sign of pregnancy to
the last hours, similar to Moses's mother. But no doubt that what Allah
wishes will certainly take place.
Given these adverse conditions and
hardships, the birth of the Imam (AS) was kept in utmost secrecy, that
even the closest people to Imam al- Askari (AS), the father of the Mahdi
(AS), did not know of the time of his (AS) birth. Only VERY FEW close
associates were notified. The obvious contention is that the birth of
al-Imam al-Mahdi (AS) constitutes a direct threat to the continuance of
the corrupt government to rule. This situation is best understood when
we refer back to the first few days of Islam when the Prophet
(PBUH&HF) preached the religion in utmost secrecy among a few loyal
followers. The Prophet (PBUH&HF) feared for the lives of these
believers, and, as such, forbade them from revealing any information
that might jeopardize the entire mission.
Who was his father?
along with some Sunni scholars believe that his father was Imam Hasan
al-Askari (d. 260/874). Below I have included the name of 31 Sunni
scholars who confirm this fact. The overwhelming majority of prophetic
traditions about Imam Mahdi (some of which I mentioned in the previous
part) state that the name of Imam Mahdi is the same as the name of
Prophet (i.e., Muhammad). However there exists a single Sunni report
that has an additional phrase concerning that his father's name is also
similar to that of Prophet's father (i.e., Abdullah). This extra phrase
does NOT exist in all other reports by Shia and Sunni who narrated the
Hadith. Moreover, the extra phrase in some Shi'i traditions is in the
form of (that his nickname is the same as Prophets nickname, i.e., Abul
Qasim) which is correct.
The single report which has the additional
phrase (that his father's name is the same as that of Prophet's father)
has been probably fabricated by Abdullah Ibn al-Hasan (Muthanna; the
second) Ibn (Imam) al-Hasan (AS). Abdullah (d. 145/762) had a son named
Muhammad who called him "Nafs al-Zakiyyah" and the al-Mahdi. (See Ibn
Taqtuqa, al-Fikr fil-adab al- Sultaniyyah, PP 165-166). Abdullah used
all his power and wealth to support the revolt of his son. Abdullah
concealed his son several times in Umayad period when there was still no
danger for him. When he was asked why he did this, he said: "What an
idea, their time has not come yet." (Muruj al- Dhahab, by al-Masudi, V6,
PP 107-108). The first time Muhammad wrote a letter the Abbasid Caliph,
al-Mansur, he wrote: "From Muhammad Ibn Abdillah, the Mahdi, ..."
(Tabari, V3, P29, Ibn Kathir V10, P85, Ibn Khaldun, V4, P4).
Ibn Abdillah started his claims at the end of the rule of Umayad
caliphs. Muhammad became powerful and tried to gain the support of the
last Umayad Caliph who was Marwan Ibn Muhammad (132/750), but the Caliph
did not pay attention to him. Abul Abbas al-Falasti said to Marwan:
"Muhammad Ibn Abdillah is striving to gain the power for he is claiming
to be al-Mahdi". Marwan replied: "What does he have to do with me? (the
Mahdi) is not him, nor any of his father's descendants. He will be the
son of a slave woman."
When Marwan said that Mahdi (AS) is not one of
his father's descendants, he meant the descendants of Imam Hasan (AS),
for Mahdi (AS) is the descendant of Imam Husain (AS) and is son of a
slave woman (umm walad). Even Marwan was aware of these traditions
because of which he did not pay attention to Muhammad Ibn Abdillah. This
shows that the true versions of traditions from Prophet were
There is also a very small possibility that the
fabrication of that extra phrase was done the Abbasid Caliph, Abdullah
al-Mansur, who called his son the Mahdi. Muslim Ibn Qutaybah said:
"Mansur called me and said: Muhammad Ibn Abdillah rebelled and he called
himself the Mahdi. By Allah he is not. I will tell you something else
which I have told no one before, and will tell no one after you. By
Allah my son is not the Mahdi either,... but I did so to make a good
future for him."
From all above it can be seen that the fabrication
of the single report which includes that extra phrase, could be
reconciled on Muhammad Ibn Abdillah and/or the Abbasid Caliph, al-Mahdi.
This is not the place to examine the Hadith critically, but merely to
point out the historical background of it.