MAHDI'S ADVENT; THE END OF DARKNESS

MAHDI'S ADVENT; THE END OF DARKNESS0%

MAHDI'S ADVENT; THE END OF DARKNESS Author:
Translator: Dr. Alaedin Pazargadi
Publisher: Foreign Department of Bethat Foundation
Category: Imam al-Mahdi

MAHDI'S ADVENT; THE END OF DARKNESS

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Author: Foreign Department of Be'that Foundation
Translator: Dr. Alaedin Pazargadi
Publisher: Foreign Department of Bethat Foundation
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MAHDI'S ADVENT; THE END OF DARKNESS

MAHDI'S ADVENT; THE END OF DARKNESS

Author:
Publisher: Foreign Department of Bethat Foundation
English

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

4-Saviour

For such an expectation it is necessary to have an exact knowledge of the promised figure so that we could not mistake him with the dolls of the puppet-shows of the powers that sing a new song every day in order to break up and destroy the wonderful epic of expectation, nor could the extravagant talks of ignorant and self-interested people cover up this matter with a veil of superstitions, and thus change our hope into despair, and our longing into defeat.

He is the twelfth and last leader of theShi'a society of Muhammad, a son of Imam HassanAskari , born in the middle of the month ofSha'aban of 255 of theHejira . His fine mother wasNarjess , a Romanlady who was converted to Islam and had become ImamAskari's consort.

The true and greatShi'a leaders have, on sorrowful occasions, given their friends the tidings of his advent. When Imam HassanMojtaba was compelled to make peace withMo'avieh andwas reproached for it by some people, he offered several reasons for the correctness of his deed, of which superficial people were ignorant, and said:

"Did you not know that there is no Imam of ours who is not forced to show allegiance to the arrogant men of his time except the concealed and awaited Imam behind whom Jesus performs his prayer? Then, as God indeed conceals his birth and hides him from people so that, on his reappearance, he could owe allegiance to no one, know that he is the ninth offspring ofHossain , my brother's generation, and son of the noblest slave- girl. God will give him a long life in his absence and then, by His might, He will let him re-appear as a young man under forty in order to show that God is mighty in everything." (32)

Since it was God's will thatMahdi should be secure against enemies' harm, and be able in future to carry out the great plan of setting up a single world government based on justice, he disappeared from public view when in 260 of theHejira , ImamAskari , his father, suffered martyrdom, and he had performed the prayer rites for his father's corpse. The reason is that the tyrannicalAbassid Caliphs knew, on the strength of the tidings given by the prophets and previousImams( 33) , that he would break up the whole system of the wicked based on oppression and crimes.So they were seeking his death, and after the above-mentioned burial ceremony, they rushed to his house to kill him.

He was hidden from public sight for seventy years from that date onward, and only the selectShi'as of the Imam were allowed to meet him, and explain the difficulties experienced by themselves and others. Those menwere given the name of 'select deputies' inShi'a history, and this period of seventy years was called 'the short absence'.

At that time when some wicked individuals thought of communicating with the Imam for the purpose of misleading the people, the Imam, in a letter in his own handwriting delivered by his fourth deputy, announced the question of deputyship and declared all communication with himself terminated until his reappearance.

In this period which is called "the long absence", the Imam lives incognito among people, and as it is mentioned inShi'a traditions and narrations, he walks about markets, steps on people's carpets, and they see him withoutrecognising him, whereas he sees andrecognises them, and this state is considered similar to that of Joseph and his brothers,(34) for the people saw Joseph a ruler of Egypt and talked with him, but were unable torecognise him, while Joseph knew them all.

In this period, Imam Muhammad-bin-Hassan, in cases of need, defends the religion as an ordinaryindividual and solves the difficulties of theShi'as .And whenever necessary, he introduces himself to a trustworthyShi'a who can guard a secret and issues orders to him. It is a belief in these helpful acts of ImamMahdi that gives theShi'a a remarkable courage, and by reliance on such assistance, they resume their fearless combat against falsehood howsoever strong it might be. This state reminds one of theutterance of Imam Ali who says:

"By reliance on the presence of the Prophet in the hardest moments of the battle, we did not withdraw from the scene and continued to fight till victory was won." (35)

During the period of Imam's absence, theShi'a act to receive religious edicts in the same way as in the periods when other Imams were living.This means that similar to the time when the Imam sent for them an honest scholar and expert in religious matters to submit their questions to him and learn their duties from him, while most of them never met the Imam even once in all their lives, in his absence, too, theShi'as are duty-bound to approach to their religious scholars who are protectors of religions, never follow their whims and fancies, and only obey God's commands given in the Qur'an and tradition(36) .

But , on his advent, all human beings follow the religion of Islam, Muhammad faith and the Book of God, and act on the instructions issued by ImamMahdi . To explain this point further, we refer to the words of the leader of theShi'as who says:

"The concealed Imam will invite the people to my faith and to follow the Qur'an'sinfunctions ." (37)

"In his government of the world, there will remain no land in which the call of faith,

God's uniqueness and Muhammad'sProphethood is not heard." (38)

"Mahdi will establish the Islamic prayer and will himself act as its Imam.( 39)

Imam Ali, the first Imam of theShi'as , says:

"The concealed Imam will, on his advent, offer Islam to people and calls upon them to follow it." (40)

ImamBagher , the fifth leader of theShi'as , says:

"The concealed Imam will begin his task at Mecca, and will seek people's allegiance On the basis of faith in the Qur'an, the Prophet's ways, his own guardianship, and dislike of his enemies." (41)

He says also:

"In the government ofMahdi no one remains without having joined the followers of Muhammad." (42)

It is under the auspices of this program that Islam which has been forgotten and the Qur'an which has been laid aside, will be brought back to the people's life; the society will be built up on the basis of theQur'anic injunctions; a new life will be given to Islam and Muslims, and the glorious rule of the Qur'an will be revived. And this greatness will be so noticeable that the people will find it hard to believe that they have attained that sublimity through the Qur'an which they possessed." ImamSadegh says about ImamMahdi's program:

"Mahdi will do what the Prophet of God did, that is, he will do away with the existing innovations in the same way that the Prophet destroyed paganism, and then he will rebuild Islam." (43)

The Prophet says aboutMahdi's uprising:

"A time will come when Islam is left only in name and the Qur'an becomes a mere formality. Then God will permit him to rise up and with his assistance, Islam will be strengthened and renewed." (44)

Therefore, as the other Imams did not introduce a new religion, but only revived and strengthened Islam, ImamMahdi , too, will act as Imamon the basis of Muhammad's religion, and will not even hide his belief against enemies for the sake of a greater expediency, but he will declare his mission openly from the very outset.According to the words of ImamSadegh , hiding one's faith will not only be forbidden for him but also for all his followers at the time of his advent,(45) because such a covert act is required in difficult circumstances or in the eventuality of any damage to Islam, and these factors will be non-existent since his advent is the beginning of relief and ease.

Reflection about the question of absence clarifies certain facts, the way torealise which is the Imam's absence in itself.For example, the only way to reform those individuals who preferred their whims to the logicalreasonings of the prophets concerning the necessity of following religion, or created or adhered to various schools of thought and ideologiesinspite of the clear utterances of the prophets about the inability of man in the matter of legislation, is to practically prove this fact that man -made schools of thought produce nothing for mankind but confusion and distress, and if someone seeks happiness, he should obey the orders of the prophets. Moreover, those who,inspite of clear evidences and signs, lose their identity in the face of knowledge and suppose that knowledge can replace faith, should discern this point that knowledge acts only as a means, and the mode of itsutilisation should be determined by religion, otherwise it may cause the greatest damage to mankind.

The period of the Imam's absence is the phase of leaving man to himself, so that by not following nature and reason,experience prove s to him that human society is always in need of divine guidance. As the leaders of Islam have declared, the advent of ImamMahdi takes place at a time when the majority of human beings wholeheartedly desires divine guidance to be liberated from the disorders and confusions that have been created by itself, and seeks the establishment of a society on the basis of theQur'anic laws. That is why we seethat there is a constant increase in the number of thoughtful beings who are aware of the need for religion and admit it .

In addition to the above matter, during this period of absence, theShi'as are tested for their steadfastness in religion. As this period is long, and infidelity may dominate faith and add to the commitment of sins and oppression, as well as indulgence in carnal desires, theShi'as are subjected to a constant trial so as to differentiate between those who verbally claim to be believers while in comfort, and those who are true believers.

We find both these points concerning the subject ofMahdi's absence in a brief utterance of ImamSadegh who says:

"This matter the Imam's advent and uprising will not take place until after despair of finding happiness throughman made schools of thought or by virtue of the victory of Islam on account of the lengthy wait.Nay! I swear to God that it will not come until you believers are separated from hypocrites. By God, it will not come until the miserable become truly miserable, and the happy truly happy." (46)

He says also:

"As the absence period is long, only one group remains steadfast, and a group of other peoplesay "He is not yet born!" Otherssay: "He was born and then died." Some say: "The eleventh Imam had no offspring." Others commit sin by saying "The Imam is incarnated in another body and then speaks." (47)

This question may arise that if the reappearance of ImamMahdi takes place many centuries after his father, ImamAskari , why, then, was he born in the lifetime of his father to remain unidentified for such a longtime? In response, we must point out that according to theShi'a belief which is based on the utterances of Islamic leaders, the world never remains without evidence, namely, in every era, there must exist a perfect human being who has known God in the most perfect way, and has obeyed and worshipped him in the worthiest manner.

Imam Ali says:

"The world will never be devoid of evidence, whether it is known or unknown." (48)

Also ImamSadegh says:

"If there are only two people left on the earth, one of them will be the evidence." (49) "If there were no evidence of God, the earth and its inhabitants would be destroyed." (50)

Thus, we see that the world never lacks evidence.But according to the utterances of the Prophet and Imams, the evidence of God next to the Prophet himself is presented by the twelve Imams. As an example, an utterance of the Prophetis quoted below, saying:

"Indeed, the deputies and evidence of God after me are twelve people, the first of whom is Ali, and the last isMahdi ." (51)

In view of the above two pointsand also the fact that history gives the exact details of the life and death of these Imams, there is no alternative but that after the eleventh Imam, there should existMahdi as God's deputy thenceforth, to show the continuity of existence in the world.Moreover his program requires preliminaries, some of them mentioned before, for which the passage of many centuries would be necessary, and thusMahdi must have a long life.

It, therefore, becomes clear that the need for evidence and continuation of the world's existence, and the fact that there remained no deputy butMahdi after the decease of Imam HassanAskari , leave no alterative butMahdi as a living evidence on the earth after his father's death and until the time he (Mahdi ) reappears.

Anotherpoint which may seem obscure is the life-span of several centuries ofMahdi as stated in various traditions and narrations, and considered as one ofMahdi's characteristics.

As an example, we will quote a few of the words of theShi'a Imams related to this matter.

ImamSajjad says:

"In ImamMahdi , there is a quality of Noah and that is the length of his life-span." (52)

Imam Reza says aboutMahdi :

"He is of a long age and has a young face, and an observer may take him for a man of forty or less and another sign of his is that he does not grow old until God's command is issued." (53)

To clarify this matter, it should be remembered that if werecognise God to be All-Powerful, every difficult and extraordinary thing is possible for Him if He desires so; and in view of the role ofMahdi in human history which is the consequence of the ceaselessendeavour of the prophets, it is reasonable to believe that God will keep him young and powerful until Resurrection time.

Moreover if we regard this matter scientifically, werealise that the present-day knowledge does not only not fix a limit for human life-span, but what it considers natural is very a long life. If we are witnessing the short life of human beings, it isdue to the fact that man is not aware of the mechanism of his existence and does not know its proper use.

Consequently he is every moment faced with great losses which damage his body and spirit. Therefore, with the advance of knowledge and man's greater awareness of his own mechanism, hislife-span has continued to increase. Thisis clearly shown by age statistics of human beings.

As an example, in England the average age of men between the years 1838 and 1845 had been 39.91 years, and that of women 41.85 years. In 1937, the average age of men had risen to 60 and that of women to 64. Similarly, in America in 1901 the average ages of men and women were respectively 48 and 51, while in 1944 these had gone up to 63.5 and 69.(54)

Learned men of to-day have discussed the longevity of human beings in different ways, some of which are given here as example.

The German scholar, Weisman, says:

"Death is not necessarily a law ofnature, and in the world of nature, there is eternal life as well as a momentary one. What is natural is an everlasting life..... In our own time, man's life span has increased, and there is no reason why it should not continue to rise and allow a human being to live nine centuries." (55)

YuriFialkov , professor of technology at Kiev in the Soviet Union, says:

"An Atom which forms the basis of matter is eternal and is never destroyed by itself provided it is not done so by outside forces. The cell, too, which is the basis of living creatures is eternal on condition that it is duly fed and is not destroyed by extreme cold and heat." (56)

He says also:

"Man should livefor ever and never die, for, a living cell is eternally alive." (57)

Jean Rostand, the well-known biologist, says:

"I admit that there exist natural factors of ageing in a human being, but many of the bodily cells are not destructible, and it is not right to say these eternal cells assemble to create a mortal body." (58)

Attention tothe se matters shows that modernknow ledge does not only reject the idea of a long life-span being incompatible with the mechanism of creation of man, but also regards a short life as unnatural.

History, too, is a true testimony of man's length of life, and tells us of those who have lived long, such as Noah, Elias andMethuselah( 59) , as well as others mentioned in other books. In our own time, we have heard of ages several times that of ordinary life-spans such as a 207-year-old man of south America(60) ,Sayed Abu-Taleb Musari Farsi who lived for 101 years(61) ; MuhammadBagher Oghlu of 184 years(62) ;Shir Aliov of the Caucasia 168 years of age(63) ;Hatin Nin, a Turkish woman of 168(64) .LuisaTrosko , a woman of 175;Teps Abzip of 180; andSayed AliKutahi of 185(65) .

The only point that remains is the small number of people with a long life.But it must be remembered that the rarity of matter is not an evidence of its impossibility, in the same way that geniuses rarely appear, but this does not mean the absence of great talents of such men as Edison, Einstein etc.

Thus, the question ofMahdi's life-span, in addition to its being the wish of God and in view of His absolute might, and therefore practicable, is also possible from the viewpoint of modern knowledge as is confirmed by various testimonies.

The abovediscussion show that the world is in need of asaviour and awaits him. This expectation, in its most genuine form, figures inShiism as a revolutionary principle, and the leader of an Islamic world government, who will rule the worldon the basis of the Qur'an and traditions, is none but Muhammad, son of the eleventh Imam of theShi'as , who was born in 255 of theHejira , and lives incognito amidst people.He has been given a long life by God in order to reappear when the world is ready for the rule of the Qur'an, take over the world affairs and fight oppressors.

5- Conspiracy

Destructive and evil powers for whom the epic of expectation is a disrupter of their injustices and plunders, have always continued to forgeMahdilooking puppets in order to get rid of thishistorymaking and revolutionary idea and turn the w arm hope of the masses for a bright future into despair.

The appearance of these actors in the big powers' puppet-show did not only fail to find a remedy for human anxieties, or change destructive wars into joyful tranquility, or put an end to the tragedy of hunger,poverty and worry, but all those miseries also increased and added to human sorrow.

As an example, we will deal here with one pseudo-Mahdi namely that ofMirza Ali-MuhammadShirazi , to show that there is nothing in common between these claimants and the trueMahdi .( *)

(*) The statements on the Baha'i sect in this sectionare based on the books written by the leaders of this very sect, and, therefore, considered valid by its followers.

He was a son ofMirza RezaBazzaz Shirazi , born in 1235 of theHejira , in Shiraz and his motherwas called Fatima. In his youth, he studied Islamic subjects at Najaf and Karbala, and these studies were undertaken from the viewpoint of theSheikhia who believe that, at all times, there exist individuals as intermediaries between ImamMahdi andpeople( 66) . After the death of his teacher,Sayed Kazem , he claimed to be his successor and set up the creed ofBabiism ( 67) , and a few of theSheikhia followed him.

His claim coincided with the years of internal riots and turmoil in Iran, and with the blows dealt with bycolonising countries, especially the Czarist Russia. In that period of hardship, the people heartily welcomed the tidings of Islamic leaders, and more than any other time, longed for the advent of ImamMahdi to liberate them from their sufferings.

WhenMirza Ali-Muhammad declared that he had been nominated by ImamMahdi to prepare the preliminaries for his advent(68) , some simpletons and ignorant people, hoping for this advent of the Imam, gathered round this man, and called himBab (i.e. door) which led to the Imam's threshold.

As the Czarist Russia thought of him as a proper means of breaking up the united ranks of theShi'as against itself, it gave him a free hand on the principle of "divide and rule", and helped him to propagate his ideas. His followers were sent to various parts of Iran to convert people toBabiism , and there were started riotsso as to engage Iran's military forces in suppressing this confusion, while thecolonisers could easily secure what they desired. As an example the incidents ofBadasht ,Neyriz ,Zanjan , andGhal'a SheikhTabarsi at that time may be mentioned.( 69)

AsMirza Ali-Muhammad realized about people's interest in his claim, he made a still greater claim to declare that he was ImamMahdi himself.(70) , forgetting that those who had gathered round him were believers in ImamMahdi , and his second claim showed that his first one, too, had been nothing but a demagogic act.(71)

But as he was indulging in the pleasures provided for him by the Russian Government throughManouchehr KhanGorji , Governor of Isfahan who was of Russian origin(72) , and as he (Ali-Muhammad) had taken as true(73) the promises of the Governor about the conquest of Iran in the war with Muhammad Shah, compelling people to follow him and placing huge amounts of money at his disposal(74) , he insolently declared: "I am ImamMahdi whose advent had been promised to people." (75)

When the peoplerealised that his name was not Muhammad, and he was not a son of Imam HassanAskari , nor was his mother the RomanNarjes , nor a descendant of the disciples of Jesus, nor the date of his birth 255 of theHejira , nor his life a lengthy one like that of Noah, nor w as he hidden from public view, they abandoned and opposed him. Among the opponents could be seen two of hisformer( *) followers who were praised by him in his books, and whose conversion toBahai sect he took as a sign of the authenticity of his claim.(76)

(*) They wereMolla Abdol-Khalegh Yazdi , andHaj Molla Muhammad AliBaraghani Ghazwini .

But he was not content with this, andsome time after, by writing two books called,Bayan -e Farsi' and 'Bayan -e-Arabi ' he issued a verdict on annulling Islam and claiming his ownprophethood , and declared that the Qur'an was no longer a book to be followed by people, and offered his own book in its place.

This contention w as another proof of his false claim, for, the people knew that according to the leaders of Islam,Mahdi would not introduce a new religion and, like the other Imams, would propagate the Qur'an and Muhammad's faith.

But this man who thought only of winning his masters' satisfaction, and obeying what they commanded him, went so far as to declare himself God and said: "Indeed Ali-MuhammadShirazi is God and is the reality of His existence." (77) , and thus offered the seekers of truth the most futile testimony of his claim.

It is interesting to know that this sameMirza Ali-Muhammad who passed through the stages of claimingBabiism , Imamate,Prophethood and godhood, in the year 1264 of theHejira which coincided with his declaration and the ensuing riots in various parts of Iran, at a meeting held in Tabriz in the presence of the then crown prince,Nassereddin Mirza , to investigate that claim, was given lashes.(78) The prince then wrote to his father, Muhammad Shah: "This man has given a written and sealed pledge that he would no longer commit such improper acts."(79) and after this lashing, he was exempted from further punishment by those present owing to the probability of his mentaldisbalance .(80)

Abol-Fazl Golpayegani , the well-known Baha'i missionary, has quoted, in his book "Kash fol Gheta'e ", a letter written by Ali-MuhammadShirazi to the crown prince, Nasser-eddin Mirza , at the same meeting begging for pardon.Abass Afendi , titledAbdol-Boha , who is another leader ofBabiism , has seen this book, shown much appreciation of it toGolpayegani and ordered its publication.( 81)

This letter is as follows:

"My life is for you. God and he whois with him witness that this humble servant has no intention to act contrary to the satisfaction of the God of Universe and His deputies, even though my existence is wholly sinful. IfI have let my pen write words contrary to His satisfaction, my intention has not been to rebel, and in any case, I am penitent and beg His forgiveness. This humble servant has no knowledge at all that would justify a claim.I beg God for forgiveness and repent any matter attributed to me. If certain words and benedictions have been uttered by me, these are not the proof of anything, and I deny being a special deputy of ImamMahdi , and I never claim this or any other matter." (82)

This letter is the best evidence of his inconsistency with his program, and with the armed combat of ImamMahdi that would continue until the total destruction of oppressors. In this course, ImamMahdi and his followersare never permitted to conceal their faith, let alone expressingrepentence !

We discover the real motive for this event when we see that on his being hanged in 1266 of theHejira for his riots, the Russian consul presented himself beside the corpse together with some painters to prepare a valuable document and evidence of a sacrifice as a martyred soldier in the service of the Russian government, namely that ofMirza Ali MuhammadShirazi !(83)

As God always provides the best evidence of the falsehood of liars by their own hands so as to convince all people, we see in the works ofMirza Ali-MuhammadShirazi the sacred name of ImamMahdi mentioned repeatedly, especially in his writings before his claiming Imamate, such as his 'commentary onQur'anic Chapter Yusuf", "Commentary on Chapter Yusuf", " Commentary on Chapter Baghara ", Commentary on ChapterKauthar " and other commentaries, as well as his books like "Dala'el Sab'a " and "Sahifa Adlia " in which he explicitly speaks of Muhammad-ibn -Al-Hassan, and has even given reasons for his long life and absence.

As an example, we quote some sections from his book "Sahifa Adlia ":

"Thirdly there is the knowledge of Doors (Chapters). There is a duty here to confess to the guardianship of Ali, Commander of the Faithful. Fourthly, there is the matter of knowing Imamate. There is the duty here for all beings to know the twelve holy Imams who are deputies of absolute guardianship. Here are their sacred names: Al-Hassan-binAli , Al-Hossain -bin-Ali, Ali-bin-Hossain . Al-Hassan-bin-Ali, and the concealed Imam Muhammad-bin-Hassan, the lord of the time.( 84)

Thus, this man has considered it a duty to believe in the Imamate of Muhammad-bin-Hassan after Imam HassanAskari . This pointis asserted elsewhere, too, as the following quotation from his book:

"The prayer given in the fifth Chapter includes all the phases of belief, and it is, by itself, sufficient for faith." (85)

And in the same Chapter we note this:

"I testify to the successors of Muhammad, namely Ali, Hassan,Hossain ..then Ali, then Hassan, and after him the lord of the time and Your treasure . I testify, too, that the concealed Imam who belongs to these twelve, greetings, is my rightful Imam." (86)

So Mirza Ali-Muhammad considers testifying to the Imamate of Muhammad-bin-Hassan as a requisite of true faith, and expresses his testimony to that Imam in the same manner. It is interesting that he writes at the conclusion of the same book:

"Indeed, all the points mentioned in this book are my beliefs in God. I have lived with them,and I shall die with them by God's command, and shall rise with them by God's will on Resurrection Day. I testify, too, that Ali Muhammad, in all matters, is the servant of the Remainder of God." (87)

After this brief investigation, we return to the original topic, and remember that the world isawaiting for Muhammad-bin-Hassan to reappear by God's command, and act as a leader indefence of truth for the last combat with evil and its total destruction. We must remember also that our duty during his absence is to prepare the environment for his advent. Therefore, we should start his program of combat with falsehood within our own ability and limit, and beg God Almighty to make us worthy of a true expectation and to witness his advent. Now that the human world is despairing of finding a remedy for its sufferings and distresses, we should await in this dark night for the bright dawn ofMahdi's uprising, gazing at the hope - inspiring horizon, and uttering the following prayer:

"O God, our hope and longing in you are to grant us the blessed government of ImamMahdi , and in that government grant Islam and its followershonour and greatness and abase hypocrisy and its fellows, and grant us the glory of the life in this world and the life hereafter.(88) .