Imam Muhammad (al-Mahdi)

Son of Imam Hassan (eleventh imam)
The Twelfth Imam

The promised Mahdi, who is usually mentioned by his title of Imam-I ‘Asr (the Imam of the “Period”) and Sahib al-Zaman (the Lord of the Age), is the son of the eleventh Imam. His name is the same as that of the Holy Prophet (sawas). He was born in Samarrah in 256/868 and until 260/872 when his father was martyred, lived under his father’s care and tutelage. He was hidden from public view and only a few of the elite among the Shia were able to meet him. After the martyrdom of his father he became Imam and by Divine Command went into occultation (ghaybat). Thereafter he appeared only to his deputies (na’ib) and even then only in exceptional circumstances.

The Imam chose as a special deputy for a time Uthman ibn Sa’id ‘Umari, one of the companions of his father and grandfather who was his confidant and trusted friend. Through his deputy the Imam would answer the demands and questions of the Shia. After Uthman ibn Sa’id, his son Muhammad ibn Uthman Umari was appointed the deputy of the Imam. After the death of Muhammad ibn Uthman, Abu’l Qasim Husayn ibn Ruh Nawbakhti was the special deputy, and after his death Ali ibn Muhammad Simmari was chosen for this task.

A few days before the death of Ali ibn Muhammad Simmari in 329/939 an order was issued by the Imam stating that in six days Ali ibn Muhammad Simmari would die. Henceforth the special deputation of the Imam would come to an end and the major occultation (ghaybat-i kubra) would begin and would continue until the day God grants permission to the Imam to manifest himself. The occultation of the twelfth Imam is, therefore, divided into two parts: the first, the minor occultation (ghaybat-i-sughra) which began in 260/872 and ended in 329/939, lasting about seventy years; the second, the major occultation which commenced in 329/939 and will continue as long as God wills it. In a hadith upon whose authenticity everyone agrees, the Holy Prophet (sawas) has said, “If there were to remain in the life of the world but one day, Allah would prolong that day until He sends in it a man from my community and my household. His name will be the same as my name. He will fill the earth with-equity and justice as it was filled with oppression and tyranny.”

On the Appearance of the Mahdi
In the discussion on prophecy and the Imamate it was indicated that as a result of the law of general guidance which governs all of creation, man is of necessity endowed with the power of receiving revelation through prophecy, which directs him toward the perfection of the human norm and the well-being of the human species. Obviously, if this perfection and happiness were not possible for man, whose life possesses a social aspect, the very fact that he is endowed with this power would be meaningless and futile. But there is no futility in creation. In other words, ever since he has inhabited the earth, man has had the wish to lead a social life filled with happiness in its true sense and has striven toward this end. If such a wish were not to have an objective existence it would never have been imprinted upon man’s inner nature, in the same way that if there were no food there would have been no hunger. Or if there were to be no water there would be no thirst and if there were to be no reproduction there would have been no sexual attraction between the sexes. Therefore, by reason of inner necessity and determination, the future will see a day when human society will be replete with justice and when all will live in peace and tranquillity, when human beings will be fully possessed of virtue and perfection. The establishment of such a condition will occur through human hands but with Divine succour. And the leader of such a society, who will be the saviour of man, is called in the language of the hadith, the Mahdi.

In the different religions that govern the world such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Islam there are references to a person who will come as the saviour of mankind. These religions have usually given happy tidings of his coming, although there are naturally certain differences in detail that can be discerned when these teachings are compared carefully. The hadith of the Holy Prophet (sawas) upon which all Muslims agree, “The Mahdi is of my progeny,” refers to this same truth. There are numerous hadiths cited in Sunni and Shi’ite sources from the Holy Prophet (sawas) and the Imams concerning the appearance of the Mahdi, such as that he is of the progeny of the Prophet (sawas) and that his appearance will enable human society to reach true perfection and the full realisation of spiritual life. In addition, there are numerous other traditions concerning the fact that the Mahdi is the son of the eleventh Imam, Hasan al-‘Askari. They agree that after being born and undergoing a long occultation the Mahdi will appear again, filling with justice the world that has been corrupted by injustice and iniquity.

As an example, Ali ibn Musa al-Rida (the eighth Imam) has said, in the course of a hadith, “The Imam after me is my son, Muhammad, and after him his son Ali, and after Ali his son, Hasan, and after Hasan his son H. Hujjat al-Qa’im, who is awaited during his occultation and obeyed during his manifestation. If there remain from the life of the world but a single day, Allah will extend that day until he becomes manifest, and fill the world with justice in the same way that it had been filled with iniquity. But when? As for news of the ‘hour,’ verily my father told me, having heard it from his father who heard it from his father who heard it from his ancestors who heard it from Ali, that it was asked of the Holy Prophet (sawas), ‘Oh Prophet (sawas) of God, when will the “support” (qa’im) who is from thy family appear?’ He said, ‘His case is like that of the Hour (of the Resurrection). “He alone will manifest it at its proper time. It is heavy in the heavens and the earth. It cometh not to you save unawares” (Quran, VII, 187).102
Saqr ibn Abi Dulaf said, “I heard from Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Ali al-Rida [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][the ninth Imam] who said, ‘The Imam after me is my son, Ali; his command is my command; his word is my word; to obey him is to obey me. The Imam after him is his son, Hasan. His command is the command of his father; his word is the word of his father; to obey him is to obey his father.’ After these words the Imam remained silent. I said to him, ‘Oh son of the Prophet (sawas), you will be the Imam after Hasan?’ The Imam cried hard, then said, ‘Verily after Hasan his son is the awaited Imam who is “al-qa’im bi’l-haqq” (He who is supported by the Truth).’ ”
Musa ibn Ja’far Baghdadi said, “I heard from the Imam Abu Muhammad al-Hasan ibn Ali [the eleventh Imam] who said, ‘I see that after me differences will appear among you concerning the Imam after me. Whoso accepts the Imams after the Prophet (sawas) of God but denies my son is like the person who accepts all the prophets but denies the prophethood of Muhammad, the Prophet (sawas) of God, upon whom be peace and blessing. And whoso denies [Muhammad] the Prophet (sawas) of God is like one who has denied all the prophets of God, for to obey the last of us is like obeying the first and to deny the last of us is like denying the first. But beware ! Verily for my son there is an occultation during which all people will fall into doubt except those whom Allah protects.”

The opponents of The Followers of Ahlul Bayt protest that according to the beliefs of this school the Hidden Imam should by now be nearly twelve centuries old, whereas this is impossible for any human being. In answer it must be said that the protest is based only on the unlikelihood of such an occurrence, not its impossibility. Of course such a long lifetime or a life of a longer period is unlikely. But those who study the hadiths of the Holy Prophet (sawas) and the Imams will see that they refer to this life as one possessing miraculous qualities.

Miracles are certainly not impossible nor can they be negated through scientific arguments. It can never be proved that the causes and agents that are functioning in the world are solely those that we see and know and that other causes which we do not know or whose effects and actions we have not seen nor understood do not exist. It is in this way possible that in one or several members of mankind there can be operating certain causes and agents which bestow upon them a very long life of a thousand or several thousand years. Medicine has not even lost hope of discovering a way to achieve very long life spans. In any case such protests from “peoples of the Book” such as Jews, Christians and Muslims are most strange for they accept the miracles of the prophets of God according to their own sacred scriptures.

The opponents of The Followers of Ahlul Bayt also protest that, they considers the Imam necessary in order to expound the injunctions and verities of religion and to guide the people, the occultation of the Imam is the negation of this very purpose, for an Imam in occultation who cannot be reached by mankind cannot be in any way beneficial or effective. The opponents say that if God wills to bring forth an Imam to reform mankind He is able to create him at the necessary moment and does not need to create him thousands of years earlier. In answer it must be said that such people have not really understood the meaning of the Imam, for in the discussion on the Imamate it became clear that the duty of the Imam is not only the formal explanation of the religious sciences and exoteric guidance of the people. In the same way that he has the duty of guiding men outwardly, the Imam also bears the function of walayat and the esoteric guidance of men. It is he who directs man’s spiritual life and orients the inner aspect of human action toward God: Clearly, his physical presence or absence has no effect in this matter. The Imam watches over men inwardly and is in communion with the soul and spirit of men even if he be hidden from their physical eyes. His existence is always necessary even if the time has not as yet arrived for his outward appearance and the universal reconstruction that he is to bring about.

Ghaibat-us-Sughra means ‘the minor concealment.’ Its period was about 70 years. It began in 260 A.H. when Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) first went into concealment, and ended in 328 A.H.

During Ghaibut-us-Sughra, the Imam appointed some agents to represent him and the people. The Imam had four agents. After the death of the fourth agent, the Imam went into major concealment (Ghaibut-ul-Kubra). This was on the 10th Shawal 329 A.H.

The Signs of the Reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a.s)
Prophet Mohammed (p.b.u.h.) has said: “Even if the entire duration of the world’s existence has already been exhausted and only one day is left before Doomsday, Allah will expand that day to such length of time as to accommodate the kingdom of a person from my Ahlul-Bayt who will be called by name. He will fill out the earth with and justice as it will have been full of injustice and tyranny (by then)”

From this Hadith, it is clear to every Muslim that the twelfth Imam will reappear when this world is full of sins and injustice.

There are many signs mentioned by the Masumeen (a.s) on the reappearance of the 12th Imam. It is reported in Biharul Anwar that after the last pilgrimage the Prophet made, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) stood near the Kaaba, and called his people to listen to him. The Prophet said: “listen to me carefully so that you transmit these words of mine to those who are absent today.” The Prophet began, “My people, a time will come when kings and rulers will be tyrannical.” The Prophet also said that the payment of Zakat will be stopped.

According to the Masumeen (a.s), Muslim countries will seek aid from non Muslim countries. This is already evident in a number of Muslim countries. Another prediction that is come true is that 60 impostors will claim to be Prophets. By their attractiveness, their persuasion, and their personality, they will misguide the people. 58 false Prophets have already emerged since the days of the Prophet (s.a.w.). We have only two more to witness.

It is reported in Qayamat-e-Sughra citing “Oqdatud-Durr” that Hazrat Amir (A.S) has said that the Mahdi will not appear until one-third of the world population will die by being killed and one-third will die as a result of epidemics.

The Last Signs of the Appearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a.s)
There is a Hadith from Imam Muhammed Baqir (a.s) that for three or seven consecutive days, one will see reddish yellow fire raging in the East.

Sufiani will emerge in Palestine, where he will start a revolt in the month of Rajab. He will be an uncompassionate rebel and his rule will last for eight consecutive months. He will conquer and rule Egypt for four consecutive months. Sufiani will conquer Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, and Syria. Sufiani has been specifically described by Aimma A.S. as an ugly, blistered, green-eyed, cross-eyed person who will be an enemy of the friends of the Ahlul-Bait. Imam Ali (a.s) has said that Sufiani’s hatred of the devotees of the Ahlul-Bait will be such that any person named Ali, Fatema, Hassan, Hussein, Zainab, Ruquaiya will be arrested and beheaded straight away without further investigations. Sufiani will rip the Mimber of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.). The holy house of the Prophet which contains his grave will be pulled and used as a stable. Horses will be tied in that Holy place.

Sufiani will then decide to attack Mecca. His purpose would be to demolish the Holy Kaaba and kill the entire population of Mecca. Sufiani’s army will set out via Baghdad but, as Allah would have it, when they get between Medina and Mecca, in the desert of Baida, suddenly one night they will hear a voice from the sky which will say, “O Baida eat up the entire army of Sufiani.” It is said that the entire army numbering 100,000 persons will be swallowed up by the earth, except for two. The two who will be spared will suddenly encounter an angel. He will slap both of them turning their faces right round, looking behind instead of front. And that will be the time when Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) will already have reappeared in Mecca. The Imam will establish his authority in the Holy Mosque at Mecca in the Haram. The angel will then order one of them calling him Bashir. “O Bashir, go straight to Mecca, into the Haram and inform the Imam that Sufiani’s army has been swallowed up by the land. The other called Nazir will be ordered to go to Sufiani and tell him that the Imam has already appeared. He should proceed straight to Mecca and declare allegiance to him.

Sufiani will prepare to attack the Imam but will not have enough courage. The Imam will catch Sufiani in Jerusalem and will kill him.

Imam Ali (a.s) has said that nine definite signs will precede the emergence of Hazrat Mahdi (a.s). These nine signs are:
Dajal will emerge. A loud voice will be heard from the sky. Sufiani will appear and wage a fierce war. The army of Sufiani will be swallowed by a sudden opening of the land between Mecca and Medina in the desert of Baida. A revered wise saint will be murdered in Mecca. (This saint is to be a Hashimite descent.) A Sayyid descendant of Imam Hassan (a.s) will emerge with his army. The army of Sayyid-e-Hassan and an image of a man will appear in the sky opposite the sun. There will be two eclipses in the holy month of Ramadan contrary to the normal order and calculation and the eclipse of the moon. On three occasions a loud voice from the sky will be heard in the holy month of Ramadan.

The Reappearance
Prophet Isa (Jesus), Prophet Khidr, Prophet Ilias, and Prophet Idris will give allegiance to the Imam when he re-appears. Also Jibrael (angel Gabriel) will announce 313 companions of the Imam. These 313 companions will be people of eminent piety, great knowledge and absolutely steadfast in their determination and faith towards the Imam. Another 1000 people will be in the army of the Imam. These people will fight battles and kill enemies like Dajal, who will appear from India. Dajal will have the musical tunes with him. Then the Imam will lead the prayers and Prophet Jesus will be Praying behind him.

May Allah Reward You For Seeking the Truth and may he deliver our savoir.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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Imam Hasan (Askari)

Son of Imam Ali (tenth imam)
The Eleventh Imam

Imam Hasan ibn Ali ‘Askari, the son of the tenth Imam, was born in 232/845 and according to some Shi’ite sources was poisoned and killed in 260/872 through the instigation of the Abbasid caliph Mu’tamid. The eleventh Imam gained the Imamate, after the death of his noble father, through Divine Command and through the decree of the previous Imams.

During the seven years of his Imamate, due to untold restrictions placed upon him by the caliphate, he lived in hiding and dissimulation (taqiyah). He did not have any social contact with even the common people among the Shi’ite population. Only the elite of the Shia were able to see him. Even so, he spent most of his time in prison.

There was extreme repression at that time because the Shi’ite population had reached a considerable level in both numbers and power. Everyone knew that the Shia believed in the Imamate, and the identity of the Shi’ite Imams was also known. Therefore, the caliphate kept the Imams under its close supervision more than ever before. It tried through every possible means and through secret plans to remove and destroy them. Also, the caliphate had come to know that the elite among the Shia believed that the eleventh Imam, according to traditions cited by him as well as his forefathers, would have a son who was the promised Mahdi. The coming of the Mahdi had been foretold in authenticated hadiths of the Prophet (sawas) in both Sunni and Shi’ite sources. For this reason the eleventh Imam, more than other Imams, was kept under close watch by the caliphate. The caliph of the time had decided definitely to put an end to the Imamate in The Followers of Ahlul Bayt through every possible means and to close the door to the Imamate once and for all.

Therefore, as soon as the news of the illness of the eleventh Imam reached Mu’tamid. he sent a Physician and a few of his trusted agents and judges to the house of the Imam to be with him and observe his condition and the situation within his house at all times. After the death of the Imam, they had the house investigated and all his female slaves examined by the midwife. For two years the secret agents of the caliph searched for the successor of the Imam until they lost all hope.

The eleventh Imam was buried in his house in Samarrah next to his noble father. Here it should be remembered that during their lifetimes the Imams trained many hundreds of scholars of religion and hadith, and it is these scholars who have transmitted to us information about the Imams. In order not to prolong the matter, the list of their names and works and their biographies have not been included here.

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Imam Ali (Naqi)

Son of Imam Muhammad (ninth imam)
The Tenth Imam

Imam Ali ibn Muhammad Naqi (sometimes referred to by the title of Hadi), was the son of the ninth Imam. He was born in 212/ 827 in Medina and according to Shi’ite accounts was martyred through poisoning by Mu’tazz the Abbasid caliph, in 254/868.

The tenth Imam was a contemporary of seven of the Abbasid caliphs: Ma’mun, Mu’tasim, Wathiq, Mutawakkil, Muntasir, Musta’m and Mu’tazz. It was during the rule of Mu’tasim in 220/835 that his noble father died through poisoning in Baghdad. At that time Ali ibn Muhammad Naqi was in Medina. There he became the Imam through Divine Command and the decree of the Imams before him. He stayed in Medina teaching religious sciences until the time of Mutawakkil. In 243/857, as a result of certain false charges, Mutawakkil ordered one of his government officials to invite the Imam from Medina to Samarrah which was then the capital. He himself wrote the Imam a letter full of kindness and courtesy asking him to come to the capital where they could meet.

Upon arrival in Samarrah the Imam was also shown certain outward courtesy and respect. Yet at the same time Mutawakkil tried by all possible means to trouble and dishonour him. Many times he called the Imam to his presence with the aim of killing or disgracing him and had his house searched.

In his enmity toward the Household of the Prophet (sawas) Mutawakkil had no equal among the Abbasid caliphs. He was especially opposed to Ali, whom he cursed openly. He even ordered a clown to ridicule Ali at voluptuous banquets. In the year 237/850 he ordered the mausoleum of Imam Husayn in Kerbala and many of the houses around it to be torn down to the ground. Then water was turned upon the tomb of the Imam. He ordered the ground of the tomb to be ploughed and cultivated so that any trace of the tomb would be forgotten.

During the life of Mutawakkil the condition of life of the descendants of Ali in the Hijaz had reached such a pitiful state that their womenfolk had no veils with which to cover themselves. Many of them had only one old veil which they wore at the time of the daily prayers. Pressures of a similar kind were put on the descendants of Ali who lived in Egypt. The tenth Imam accepted in patience the tortures and afflictions of the Abbasid caliph Mutawakkil until the caliph died and was followed by Muntasir, Musta’in and finally Mu’tazz, whose intrigue led to the Imam being poisoned and martyred.

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Imam Muhammad (Taqi)

Son of Imam Ali (eighth Imam)
The Ninth Imam

Imam Muhammad (ibn Ali) Taqi (sometimes called Jawad and Ibn al-Rida) was the son of the eighth Imam. He was born in 196/809 in Medina and according to Shi’ite traditions was martyred in 220/835, poisoned by his wife, the daughter of Ma’mun, at the instigation of the Abbasid caliph Mu’tasim. He was buried next to his grandfather, the seventh Imam, in Kazimayn. He became Imam after the death of his father through Divine Command and by the decree of his forefathers.

At the time of the death of his father he was in Medina. Ma’mun called him to Baghdad which was then the capital of the caliphate and outwardly showed him much kindness. He even gave the Imam his daughter in marriage and kept him in Baghdad. In reality he wanted to keep a close watch upon the Imam from both outside and within his own household. The Imam spent some time in Baghdad and then with the consent of Ma’mum set out for Medina where he remained until Ma’mun’s death.

When Mu’tasim became the caliph he called the Imam back to Baghdad and, as we have seen, through the Imam’s wife had him poisoned and killed.

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Imam Ali (al-Ridha, al-Reza)

Son of Imam Musa (seventh imam)
The Eighth Imam

Imam Ridha/Reza (Ali ibn Musa) was the son of the seventh Imam and according to well known accounts was born in 148/765 and died in 203/817.

The eighth Imam reached the Imamate, after the death of his father, through Divine Command and the decree of his forefathers. The period of his Imamate coincided with the caliphate of Harun and then his sons Amin and Ma’mun. After the death of his father, Ma’mun fell into conflict with his brother Amin which led to bloody wars and finally the assassination of Amin, after which Ma’mun became caliph. Until that day the policy of the Abbasid caliphate toward the Shia had been increasingly harsh and cruel.

Every once in a while one of the supporters of Ali (‘alawis) would revolt, causing bloody wars and rebellions which were of great difficulty and consequence for the caliphate. The Shi’ite Imams would not co-operate with those who carried out these rebellions and would not interfere with their affairs. The Shia of that day, who comprised a considerable population, continued to consider the Imams as their religious leaders to whom obedience was obligatory and believed in them as the real caliphs of the Holy Prophet (sawas). They considered the caliphate to be far from the sacred authority of their Imams, for the caliphate had come to seem more like the courts of the Persian kings and Roman emperors and was being run by a group of people more interested in worldly rule than in the strict application of religious principles.

. The continuation of such a situation was dangerous for the structure of the caliphate and was a serious threat to it. Ma’mun thought of finding a new solution for these difficulties which the seventy-year old policy of his Abbasid predecessors had not been able to solve. To accomplish this end he chose the eighth Imam as his successor, hoping in this way to overcome two difficulties; first of all to prevent the descendants of the Prophet (sawas) from rebelling against the government since they would be involved in the government themselves; and secondly, to cause the people to lose their spiritual belief and inner attachment to the Imams. This would be accomplished by having the Imams become engrossed in worldly matters and the politics of the caliphate itself, which had always been considered by the Shia to be evil and impure. In this way their religious organisation would crumble and they would no longer present any dangers to the caliphate. Obviously, after accomplishing these ends, the removal of the Imam would present no difficulties to the Abbasids.

In order to have this decision put into effect, Ma’mun asked the Imam to come to Marw from Medina. Once he had arrived there, Ma’mun offered him first the caliphate and then the succession to the caliphate. The Imam made his apologies and turned down the proposal, but he was finally induced to accept the successorship, with the condition that he would not interfere in governmental affairs or in the appointment or dismissal of government agents. This event occurred in 200/814.

Soon Ma’mun realised that he had committed an error, for there was a rapid spread of The Followers of Ahlul Bayt. Increasing growth in the peoples attachment to the Imam, even from the army and government agents. Ma’mun sought to find a remedy for this difficulty and eventually had the Imam poisoned and martyred. The Imam was buried in the city of Tus in Iran, which is now called Mashhad.

Ma’mun displayed great interest in having works on the intellectual sciences translated into Arabic. He organised gatherings in which scholars of different religions and sects assembled and carried out scientific and scholarly debates. The eighth Imam also participated in these assemblies and joined in the discussions with scholars of other religions. Many of these debates are recorded in the collections of Shi’ite hadiths.

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Imam Mosa (Kazim)

Son of Imam Ja’far (sixth imam)
The Seventh Imam

Imam Musa ibn Ja’far Kazim, the son of the sixth Imam, was born in 128/744 and was poisoned and martyred in prison in 183/799. He became Imam after the death of his father, through Divine Command and the decree of his forefathers.

The seventh Imam was a contemporary of the Abbasid caliphs, Mansur, Hadi, Mahdi and Harun. He lived in very difficult times and in hiding, until finally Harun went on the Hajj. In Medina, he had the Imam arrested while praying in the Mosque of the Prophet (sawas). He was chained and imprisoned, then taken from Medina to Basra and from Basra to Baghdad where for years he was transferred from one prison to another. Finally he died in Baghdad in the Sindi ibn Shahak prison through poisoning and was buried in the cemetery of the Quraysh which is now located in the city of Kazimayn.

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