As revealed by the Holy Qur’an, the world will one day face injustice of such immense proportions that it will threaten to engulf everyone of that time. In that age, even the pious ones will despair of justice and equality as they will be surrounded by inequity. A true believer at that time will recognize that the appearance of Imam Mahdi (A.S.) is close at hand and rejoice.
However, not everyone will comprehend the sense of justice that will be dispensed by the Mahdi. The paper will discuss the main traditions on the appearance of the Imam of the time and will focus on Imam Mahdi’s (A.S.) administration and dispensation of justice and equality when he reappears. Through a proper study and examination of the traditions preserved by primary Christian, Sunni, and Shia sources, this paper will also link the administration of the Islamic state under the Mahdi (A.S.) with the Qur’anic demand for a just social order.
Religious traditions on the appearance of Imam al-Mahdi (A.S.)
There are numerous traditions about the appearance of an awaited savior, which are evident in many religious sources, including the Christian Bible, as well as Sunni hadith and our own Shia tenets. The difference is in how the different religions interpret his appearance and what he will accomplish on this earth.
The Holy Bible, regardless of the fact that it was changed during the Tenth Century Council of Trent and in recent centuries, cannot hide the fact that there are many prophesies about the Ahlul Bayt (A.S.) contained within its pages. For our purpose, we will only concentrate on those chapters and verses dealing with Imam Al-Mahdi (A.S.). There are many such references, but these are some of the most apparent. For instance, in The Holy Bible by the Gideons (1978), Genesis Chapter 17, verse 20 states that
“And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly: twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation” (p.16).
This lends credence to the fact that twelve imams are foretold arising from the progeny of Ishmael. It is a well known fact that our own Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is a descendant from Ishmael.
In Revelations, chapter 12, verse 1, it states,
“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (Holy Bible by the Gideons, 1978, p.1282).
In Fatima the Gracious, which was compiled by Abu-Muhammad Ordoni, he writes “As was narrated by Ibn Abbas, I heard Amir Al Mo’mineen, Ali (A.S.) say: Once the Messenger of Allah entered the house of Fatima and found her in a sad mood. So he said, “What has made you sad daughter? “ Fatima replied, “Father I remembered the gathering (day) and people standing naked on the Day of Resurrection.” He said “Daughter, surely it will be a great day. But Gabriel informed that Allah, Glorified and Exalted is He, said that the first one upon whom the ground shall be split open is me, then your husband Ali ibn Abu Talib (A.S.), then Allah shall send Gabriel accompanied by seventy thousand angels and he will erect on your grave seven domes of light, after which Israfil will bring you three garments of light and stand by your head and say to you, “Oh Fatima bint Muhammad, rise towards your gathering place.” “You Fatima shall them rise secure from fear and veiled in privacy. Israfil will hand you the garments and you will wear them” (p. 279-280). Thus, we know that Fatimah az-Zahra (A.S.) spoke about not wanting to be resurrected without clothes and she was promised that she would be given clothes of light to wear on the Day of Judgment. We also know that hadith states that “Heaven lies under the feet of mothers” and who is both the Chief of the Women of the Universe and a mother? None other than our beloved Fatimah az-Zahra (A.S.). We also know from Chapter 12, verse 5 that her last, i.e. twelfth “child” was a male “who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne” (Holy Bible by the Gideons, 1978, p.1282). This could possibly account for our Imam’s occultation.
n Revelations, chapter 12, verse 17, we learn about a dragon who was “wroth (mad) with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Holy Bible by the Gideons, 1978, p.1282). As we all know, the last descendant, or “remnant of the seed” of Fatimah Zahra (A.S.) is our Imam al-Mahdi (A.S.) or, as he is also called, Baqiyatullah, meaning the remnant.
Revelations, chapter 19 is also an interesting chapter in that from verse 11 to 21, it talks about a man that sat on a white horse that came from heaven. This man is referred to as Faithful and True (verse 11), The Word of God (verse 13), and King of Kings (verse 16). According to a tradition in Ithbat al-Hudat (Volume 2, p.533), Hudhayfa who was a companion of the Holy Prophet (Pbuhahf) stated that the Holy Prophet (Pbuhahf) said that “…The Mahdi of this community is among us. Beware! Truth is with them and they are with truth…” We also note the Al-Mufaddal bin Umar al-Jufi stated that he heard Imam Sadiq (A.S.) say “When God gives the one who will rise (qa-im) permission to come forth, he will go up on the pulpit and summon the people to himself. He will commend them to God and summon them to His truth” (Kitab Al-Irsha, p.551). These then are two references to the “true” that bears out the veracity of this verse. It also states that “in righteousness he doth judge and make war” (verse 11) because of the “wrath of the Almighty God” (verse 15).This means that through the use of justice and due to his high moral values, he makes war against those who are against God and His dictates. It also states that he will smite (hit) the nations with a sharp sword and that he shall rule them with a “rod of iron”, which could mean that he is unwilling to go against his moral principles, and therefore must do what he deems correct and just in the eyes of God. Another verse speaks about how “the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army” (verse 18). His army was from Heaven, wore white clothes, and rode white horses (verse 14). Finally in verses20-21, it speaks about how he was victorious in ridding the world of false prophets and the kings and their armies that fought against him. It is also interesting that the Holy Bible mentions that this man will have a “sharp sword” when we know that Muslim traditions also state that Imam al-Mahdi (A.S.) will wield God\’s Sword, also known as Zulfiqar.
Last, but not least is a Psalm in the Holy Bible which has a corresponding Qur’anic verse. In the Holy Bible by the Gideons, Psalm 37 states:
Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land… For the wicked shall be cut off: but those who wait for the Lord shall possess the Land…But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace…The wicked plots against the just…The Lord knows the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever…The wicked borrows, and pay not again: but the righteous shews mercy, and gives…For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off…The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delights in his way…I have not seen the righteous forsaken, not his seed begging bread…He is ever merciful, and lends; and his seed is blessed…For the Lord loves judgement and forsakes not his saints…The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever…The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of judgement…The law of God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide…The wicked watches the righteous, and seeks to slay him…The Lord will not leave him in his hand…Wait on the Lord and keep his way, and he shall exult thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut of, thou shalt see it…I have seen the wicked in great power…Yet he passed away, and lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found…Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace…But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; the end of the wicked shall be cut off…But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble…And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him (Verses 1-40).
in the Holy Qur’an, we find suras and ayats that remarkably correspond to the above Psalm. For instance, one of the most astonishingly similar suras and ayats is that of Sura al-Anbiya, verse 105 in which it states,
“Before this We wrote in the Psalms, after the Message (given to Musa): My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the earth.”
Another Sura, an-Nur, verse 55 states that
“Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion- the one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (Lived), to one of security and peace…”
These are just a few of the suras and verses which have been revealed that correspond with what was written in the Holy Bible. No matter how much the wicked or kafirs, of which the entomological meaning is to hide the truth, have covered up of the truth, Allah (SWT) reveals what He wishes of the truth.
“Ye People of the Book! Why do ye clothe Truth with falsehood, and conceal the Truth, while ye have knowledge?” (The Holy Qur’an, Sura Al-E-Imran, ayat 71).
Thus, even though the Holy Bible has undergone a great many transformations since it was delivered and numerous attempts have been made to hide the truth, there are still many references to Imam al Mahdi that have made themselves apparent to those with knowledge.
Numerous hadiths have been cited in Sunni sources that support the belief in the last Imam (A.S.) and his role in the last days. Sunni scholars in the Muslim World League issued a fatwa in Mecca on Oct. 11, 1976, which stated that:
The memorizers (Huffadh) and scholars of Hadith have verified that there are authentic (Sahih) and acceptable (Hasan) reports among the traditions related to al-Mahdi. The majority of these traditions are related through numerous authorities (Mutawatir). There is no doubt that the status of those reports are Sahih and Mutawatir. (They have also verified) that the belief in Mahdi is obligatory, and that it is one of the beliefs of Ahlussunnah wal Jama\’a. Only those ignorant of the Sunnah and innovators in doctrine deny it.
Several Sunni hadith verify that Imam al-Mahdi (A.S.) will come to fight corruption and inequality, will be victorious, and will then rule with justice. According to Sunan Ibn Majah (Volume 2, Tradition #4082), the Prophet of Islam (Pbuhahf) said:
We (my family and I) are members of a household that Allah (SWT) has chosen for them the life of the Hereafter over the life of this world; and the members of my household (Ahlul-Bayt) shall suffer a great affliction and they shall be forcefully expelled from their homes after my death; then there will come people from the East carrying black flags, and they will ask for some good to be given to them, but they shall be refused service; as such, they will wage war and emerge victorious, and will be offered that which they desired in the first place, but they will refuse to accept it, until a man from my family (Ahlul-Bayt) appears to fill the Earth with justice as it has been filled with corruption. So whoever reaches that (time) aught to come to them even if crawling on the ice/snow.”
Another Sunni hadith, which has been verified by many Sunni scholars, is the following saying by Prophet Muhammad (Pbuhahf), “Mahdi from my family will bring about a revolution and will fill the world with justice and equity before which it was filled up with injustice and inequity.” Some of the Sunni scholars that verified this hadith are Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (Volume 1, p.84), al-Fusool al-Muhimmah (Chapter 12) by Ibn Sabbagh Maliki, and Arjahul Matalib (p.380) by Ubaidallah Hindi Hanafi, to name a few. A third Sunni hadith is also verified by several well known Sunni scholars, such as Sahih Muslim (part 2, p.19), Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (Volume 3), and al-Sawa\’iq al-Muhriqah by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami (Chapter 11, Section 1, p. 251). This hadith is related from Jabirus Ibn Abdillah al-Ansari as follows:
I heard the Messenger of Allah saying: “A group of my Ummah will fight for the truth until near the day of judgment when Jesus, the son of Mary, will descend, and the leader of them will ask him to lead the prayer, but Jesus declines, saying: “No, Verily, among you Allah has made leaders for others and He has bestowed his bounty upon them.
From a hadith in Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (volume 1, p.99), we learn that:
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Allah will bring out from concealment Mahdi
from my Family and Progeny before the Day of Judgment, even if only
one day were to remain in the life of the world, and he will spread on
this earth justice, and equity and eradicate tyranny and oppression.”
This hadith states many factors, such as the belief in al-Mahdi (A.S.), that he was in concealment, and also that he will be a savior to humankind in this era.
Due to the considerable amount of traditions in Shia literature with regards to Imam al-Mahdi (A.S.), only a few significant sayings will be presented here. A hadith narrated by Abi Ghanim states that on the third day after al-Mahdi’s (A.S.) birth, Imam Hasan Askari\’s (A.S.) showed his son to some of his followers, stating, “Here is my successor and your would-be Imam! He is that very Qaim to whose reverence your heads will bow down. He will re-appear to fill the earth with blessings and justice after it will have been abounding with sins and vices.”
Another famous Shia hadith mentions Ibn Abi Dalaf as saying “I heard from Hazrat \’Ali ibn Muhammad (the 10th Imam) that he said: \’The Imam after me will be Hasan, my son, and after him his descendent the Qa\’im, who will fill the earth with justice, when it was previously filled with injustice.”
Finally, a narration from Imam Mahdi (AS) himself is as follows:
Rest assured that no one has a special relationship with Allah. Whoever denies me is not from my (community). The appearance of the Relief (al- Faraj) depends solely upon Allah. Therefore those who propose a certain time for it are liars. As to the benefit of my existence in occultation, it is like the benefit of the sun behind the clouds where the eyes do not see it. Indeed, my existence is an amnesty for inhabitants of the earth. Pray much to Allah to hasten the Relief, for therein also lies the release from your sufferings.
Types of justice
Before one can begin to discuss the justice that will be dispensed by Imam al- Mahdi (A.S.), one must know and understand what justice is. Justice can be defined in many ways: honesty, impartiality, fairness, or reasonableness. This is primarily true when it concerns the way in which people are treated or the way in which decisions are made. There are many types of justice, but this paper will only cover the following types of justice: distributive, retributive, and contributive.
Distributive justice has to do with fairly and equitably dividing up goods, services, and resources so that each member of society gets an equal share based on their need, their contribution to societal goals, the effort that they put into something such as helping others, and so forth. One must realize that depending on how one looks at a situation, will reflect in the way this principle is applied. For example, are goods and services to be distributed based on how productive one is in society or does it depend on how needy one is? Usually
Retributive justice is the type of justice that is owed to members of society. This may include such things as punishing people for a wrong that they committed, such as breaking a law. Contributive justice is concerned with what members of society owe for the common good of society. An example of this is paying religious taxes, such as Zakat and Khums.
Qur’anic demand for a just social order
Despite the advancement of technology and the enormous amount of money available amongst the rich countries of the world, poverty, hunger, oppression, injustice, and aggression on humankind still exists. The majority of mankind also feels stressed, in turmoil, and suffers depression which is all a natural result from these types of environments. Societies which practice discrimination or are prone to being influenced by hierarchical factors, such as power and money, are usually responsible for this kind of societal trouble.
With His comprehensive and encompassing knowledge, Allah (SWT) has realized that this state of affairs will come about if mankind is let on its own to practice as it wishes. Therefore, He has instructed mankind on a method by which to avoid (or resolve) this difficulty. In Sura al-Araf, verse 29, Allah (SWT) has said, “Say: “My Lord hath commanded Justice: …” (The Holy Qur’an). Mankind is therefore directed by Allah (SWT) to practice justice in all regards as by doing so it will create a proper order and a foundation for a society based on human rights.
Qur’anic directives also dictate that an Islamic government must institute a society based on the universal values of justice, equality, rights, and a just social order. A government which practices these values is ensured of peace and harmony amongst all of its members. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (SWT) states, “Surely, We have sent down the Book to you with the truth, so that you may do justice between men in the light of that which Allah has enlightened you. And do not be an advocate for the dishonest.” This is a clear instruction, not only for every Muslim, but also for the leaders of society. Imam Ja\’far Sadiq (A.S.) has also said that “in the Holy Qur\’an all the individual and collective needs of the society have been described” (al-Kafi, volume. I, p. 59).
Last, but not least, the Holy Qur’an mentions in Sura al-Hadid, verse 25, “We sent afore time our messengers with clear signs and sent down with them the Book and the balance that men may stand forth in justice; an we sent down iron which is a great strength (for protection) as well as many other benefits for mankind.” Thus does Allah (SWT) declare that an Islamic society can only be organized if a balance exists between law (the Holy Quran, power (iron), and justice (the balanced scale).
The Islamic state under al-Mahdi (A.S.)
The religion of Islam contains rules and regulations for one’s whole life. IT also contains rules for many different arenas, such as administrative, economic, punitive, and so forth. However, to implement these rules and regulations, Islam has stipulated that only jurists and pious people may govern so that rulings are issued in accordance with Divine decrees. We also know from Biharul Anwar (Volume VI, p. 60), that Imam Ali Riza (A.S.) stated:
There is no nation which is without its leader and the social structure of a society is directly concerned with the leader and that people should manage the public treasury by keeping an account of its income and expenditure, organize the society, fight against the enemies and protect the society from internal dissensions and disunity. If there is not going to be any such leader, then the nation will break up into pieces and the Divine commandments and the teachings of the Holy Prophet will be tampered with at the command of despotic ruler.
On Ghadir Khum, The Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuhahf) delivered his last words to his followers. At this time, he also spoke about Imam Mahdi (A.S.) and his reign as follows:
O people, the light of God Almighty was placed in me then Ali and from him it was passed on to his progeny until it will be delivered to the Qa’em Al-Mahdi, who will claim the truth and will restore all the lost rights…He is mature, complete, powerful and obeyed. To him is assigned the commanding of the world of creation He is the only remaining hujjah and no other hujjah will be revealed after him and truth is with him and there is no light except what is with him… He is the God-appointed leader on earth…”
These statements then confirm for us that, not only does the Islamic government need a ruler, but that in the last days, the guardianship of society will be with none other than Allah’s (SWT) appointed ruler-Imam al-Mahdi (A.S.). We also know that justice cannot be maintained in a society without the existence of a government or a qualified ruler.
Last, but not least, the best example of this type of government has already been evidenced in a letter from Imam Ali (A.S.) to Malik bin Harith Ashtar, the appointed Governor of Egypt in 657 A.D. and may be found in Nahjul Balagha. This letter provides detailed instructions on how to set up a government based on the moral principles of justice, fairness, and equality and without any corrupting influences such as those of favoritism, nepotism, and so forth, and is what pious Muslims can expect under the auspicious leadership of our beloved Imam Al-Mahdi (A.S.).
May Allah (SWT) hasten the advent of the promised savior and make it known to the world that he is none other than Mohammad bin AI-Hasan AI-Askari (A.S.).
Source: The Scientific Committee of the International Conference of Mahdism Doctrine ,Joseph adams