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Monday, January 17, 2011

Myth of Mahdi

The Myth Of The Shia Mahdi

The Shia belief centers around the idea of Imam Mehdi, or the Hidden Imam. Here, we examine the strange beliefs associated around the Mehdi.
  • Al-Raj’ah [The Return]: Imams Reincarnated

    According to the Shia, the Imams will be in reincarnated so that they can punish their enemies and rule the earth in a second life. “Al-Raj’ah” [The Return] is a fundamental of the Shia faith. Orthodox Muslims [i.e. those of the mainstream Ahlus Sunnah] abhor this pagan and Hindu-like belief in reincarnation. It is absurd and an obvious exaggeration of the Shia who simply wishes beyond wish that one day that the “dirty Nasibi Sunnis” will be punished.

The 15th of Sha‘baan is a very significant date, both to the Ahl as-Sunnah and the Shi‘ah. The Shi‘ah, however, have their own reason for ascribing significance to this night. To them it is the night of the birth of their twelfth Imam, the Hidden Mahdi.
Who is this Mahdi whose return to this world is so eagerly awaited by the Shi‘ah, and belief in whose existence in occultation forms such a integral aspect of the Shi‘i psyche? Before an adequate answer to this question may be given, there is a need to understand certain aspects concerning the Shi‘i doctrine of Imamah.


The cornerstone of the Shi‘i faith is the belief that the spiritual and temporal leadership of this Ummah after the demise of Rasulullah (may Peace Be Upon Him) is vested in the Imam, who is appointed, like the Nabi (may Peace Be Upon Him) himself, by Allah, and who enjoys all the distinctions and privileges of the Nabi (may Peace Be Upon Him).
However, they believe that Imamah, unlike Nubuwwah, can never come to an end. In this regard there is a well-known Shi‘i hadith which says that “the world cannot exist without an Imam”, and another which goes that “if the earth were to be without an Imam for a single day it would sink.”
Thus, when it came to pass that the first of those whom they regard as their Imams Sayyiduna Ali radiyallahu ‘anhu left this world, a problem arose. Some of those who regarded themselves as his followers claimed that he did not in fact die, but that he will return to establish justice. Others said that he was succeeded as Imam by his son Hasan, who was in turn succeeded by his brother Husayn.
When Husayn died there were some who claimed to follow their other brother Muhammad (known as Ibn al-Hanafiyyah) as their Imam. When he died his followers claimed that he was in reality alive, and that he will return in due time. Others amongst the Shi‘ah took Sayyiduna Husayn’s son, Ali, surnamed Zayn al-‘Abidin, as their Imam, and upon his death transferred their loyalties to his son, Muhammad al-Baqir.
When al-Baqir died there were once again elements from amongst the Shi‘ah who denied his death and claimed that he would return one day, while others took his son Ja‘far as-Sadiq as their Imam.
When he died there was mass confusion amongst the Shi‘ah: each of his sons Isma‘il, Abdullah, Muhammad, Zakariyya, Ishaq and Musa was claimed by various groups amongst the Shi‘ah to be their Imam. In addition to them there was a group who believed that Ja‘far did not really die, and that he would return one day.
More or less the same thing happened at the death of his son Musa. Some of the Shi‘ah denied his death, believing that he will return, and others decided to take as their new Imam one of his sons. Some of these chose his son Ahmad, while others chose his other son Ali ar-Rida.
After him they took as their Imam his son Muhammad al-Jawwad (or at-Taqi), and after him his son Ali al-Hadi (or an-Naqi). At the death of Ali al-Hadi they looked upon his son Hasan al-Askari as their new and 11th Imam.

The Death Of Hasan Al-Askari

The above is a very brief synopsis of a tumultuous and confusing history a history from which a dedicated researcher might extract some very revealing facts about the development of Shi‘ism.
However, that is not our concern at this moment. We have now arrived at the year 254 AH, the time when a major section of the Shi‘ah accepted as their Imam the 22-year old Hasan, son of Ali al-Hadi, and 10th lineal descendant of Sayyiduna Ali and Sayyidah Fatimah radiyallahu ‘anhuma. Six years later, in 260 AH, Hasan al-Askari, at the very young age of 28, is lying on his deathbed, but unlike any of his forefathers he leaves no offspring, no one to whom the Shi‘ah might appropriate as their new Imam.
The Shi‘ah who had been regarding Hasan al-Askari as their Imam were thrown into mass disarray. Does this mean the end of the Imamah? The end of the Imamah would mean the end of Shi‘ism. Were they prepared for that?
The confusion that reigned amongst the Shi‘ah after the death of Hasan al-Askari is reflected by the Shi‘i writer Hasan ibn Musa an-Nawbakhti, who counts the emergence of altogether 14 sects amongst the followers of Hasan al-Askari, each one with a different view on the future of the Imamah and the identity of the next Imam. It must be noted that an-Nawbakhti was alive at the time all of this was taking place. Another Shi‘i writer, Sa‘d ibn Abdullah al-Qummi, who also lived during the same time, counts 15 sects, and a century later the historian al-Mas‘udi enumerates altogether 20 separate sects.


There were four major trends amongst these various sects:

(1) There were those who accepted the death of Hasan al-Askari as a fact, and accepted also the fact that he left no offspring. To them Imamah had thus come to an end, just like Nubuwwah came to an end with the death of Rasulullah r . However, there were some amongst them who kept hoping for the advent of a new Imam.
(2) The second trend was one to which the student of the history of “succession to the Imamah” would be much more used to. This was the tendency to deny the death of Hasan al-Askari, and to claim that he would return in the future to establish justice upon earth. We have seen this tendency emerge amongst the Shi‘ah at more than one critical juncture in the history of the Imamah of the Shi‘ah; it is therefore only logical to expect it to resurface at a moment as critical as the death of Hasan al-Askari.
(3) The third trend was to extend the chain of Imamah to Hasan’s brother Ja‘far.
(4) The fourth trend was the claim that Hasan al-Askari did in fact have a son. It is the fourth trend which ultimately became the view of the dominant group in Shi‘ism.

The Missing Son

This trend was spearheaded by persons who had set themselves up as the representatives of the Imam, and who were in control of a network covering various parts of the Islamic empire a network for the purpose of collecting money in the name of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt.
All followers of the Imams were obliged to pay one fifth of their income to the representatives of the Imams. (This is a practice which continues up to today.) At the head of this network was a man called Uthman ibn Sa‘id al-‘Amri. His manner of resolving the predicament was unique: Hasan al-Askari was dead, he admitted, but he was not childless. He had a 4-year old son, Muhammad, with whom no one but he Uthman ibn Sa‘id could have contact. And from that point onwards he would act as the representative (wakeel) of the Hidden Imam and collect money in his name.
To the fact that Hasan al-Askari’s own family were completely ignorant of the existence of any child of his, and that his estate had been divided between his brother Ja‘far and his mother, Uthman ibn Sa‘id and his ilk responded by denouncing Ja‘far as al-Kadhdhab (the Liar).
In due time a fantastic story was brought into circulation about the union between Hasan al-Askari and a Roman slave-girl, who is variously named as Narjis, Sawsan or Mulaykah. She is mentioned as having been the daughter of Yusha‘ (Joshua), the Roman emperor, who is a direct descendant of the apostle Simon Peter. But history shows that there never was a Roman emperor of that name. The Roman emperor of the time was Basil I, and neither he nor any other emperor is known to have descended from Peter. The story goes on to tell of her capture by the Muslim army, how she eventually came to be sold to Hasan al-Askari, and of her supernatural pregnancy and the secret birth of the son of whom no one aside from Uthman ibn Sa‘id and his clique knew anything. Everything about the child is enveloped in a thick and impenetrable cloud of mystery.

The Four Representatives

Uthman ibn Sa‘id remained the “representative of the Hidden Imam” for a number of years. In all that time he was the only link the Shi‘ah had with their Imam. During that time he supplied the Shi‘i community with tawqi‘at, or written communications, which he claimed was written to them by the Hidden Imam. Many of these communications, which are stilpreserved in books like at-Tusi’s Kitab al-Ghaybah, had to do with denouncing other claimants to the position of representatives, who had come to realise exactly how lucrative a position Uthman ibn Sa‘id had created for himself. The Shi‘i literature dealing with Uthman ibn Sa‘id’s tenure as representative is replete with references to money collected from the Shi‘i public.
When Uthman ibn Sa‘id died, his son Abu Ja‘far Muhammad produced a written communication from the Hidden Imam in which he himself is appointed the second representative, a position which he held for about 50 years. He too, like his father, had to deal with several rival claimants to his position, but the tawqi‘at which he regularly produced to denounce them and reinforce his own position ensured the removal of such obstacles and the continuation of support from a credulous Shi‘i public.
He was followed in this position by Abul Qasim ibn Rawh an-Nawbakhti, a scion of the powerful and influential Nawbakhti family of Baghdad. Before succeeding Muhammad ibn Uthman, Abul Qasim an-Nawbakhti was his chief aide in the collection of the one-fifth taxes from the Shi‘ah. Like his two predecessors, he too had to deal with rival claimants, one of whom, Muhammad ibn Ali ash-Shalmaghani used to be an accomplice of his. He is reported in Abu Ja‘far at-Tusi’s book Kitab al-Ghaybah as having stated: “We knew exactly what we were into with Abul Qasim ibn Rawh. We used to fight like dogs over this matter (of being representative).”
When Abul Qasim an-Nawbakhti died in 326 AH he bequethed the position of representative to Abul Hasan as-Samarri. Where the first three representatives were shrewd manipulators, Abul Hasan as-Samarri proved to be a more conscientous person. During his three years as representative there was a sudden drop in tawqi‘at. Upon his deathbed he was asked who his successor would be, and answered that Allah would Himself fulfil the matter. Could this perhaps be seen as a refusal on his part to perpetuate a hoax that has gone on for too long? He also produced a tawqi‘ in which the Imam declares that from that day till the day of his reappearance he will never again be seen, and that anyone who claims to see him in that time is a liar.
Thus, after more or less 70 years, the last “door of contact” with the Hidden Imam closed. The Shi‘ah term this period, in which there was contact with their Hidden Imam through his representatives-cum-tax-collectors, the Lesser Occultation (al-Ghaybah as-Sughra), and the period from the death of the last representative onwards the Greater Occultation (al-Ghaybah al-Kubar). The Greater Occultation has already continued for over a thousand years.

Activities Of The Representatives

When one reads the classical literature of the Shi‘ah in which the activities of the four representatives are outlined, one is struck by the constantly recurring theme of money. They are almost always mentioned in connection with receiving and collecting “the Imam’s money” his loyal Shi‘i followers. There is a shocking lack of any activities of an academic or spiritual nature. Not a single one of the four is credited with having compiled any book, despite the fact that they were in exclusive communion with the last of the Imams, the sole repository of the legacy of Rasulullah sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam.
When we look at the major sources upon which the Shi‘i faith is based, we find that most of them were written after the onset of the Greater Occultation. Those works, like al-Kafi, which was written during the latter decades of the Lesser Occultation, contain scarcely a reference to any of the four representatives as narrators from the Hidden Imam. Instead it is filled with thousands of reports which go back, via other channels, to the fifth and the sixth Imams. That is indeed strange, considering the fact that a man like Uthman ibn Sa‘id al-‘Amri is claimed to have been closely associated with the 10th, the 11th as well as the hidden 12th Imam, and also the fact that his son remained the Shi‘i community’s solitary link to that Imam for half a century. Would it not have been better and more authoritative for an author like al-Kulayni to report the hadith of his Imams from the Hidden Imam via his representatives who lived in Baghdad at the same time as he rather than to trace it all back to the fifth and sixth Imams through a myriad of doubtful channels?
But of course, he could not have done that, because the activities of those representatives did not have as much to do with authentically preserving the legacy of the Ahl al-Bayt as with the collection of wealth in their names.
In light of the fact that the Shi‘ah explain the necessity of Imamah in terms of the need for an infallible guide who serves as the repository of the legacy of Ahl al-Bayt, it appears extremely incongruous that this particular guide has left no sort of legacy of his own whereby the legacy of the Ahl al-Bayt can be known. Despite the fact that an infallible guide supposedly exists, it is upon fallible persons such as Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub al-Kulayni that the Shi‘ah must depend for that legacy.
The only bit of information that has come down to us regarding the Hidden Imam’s authentication of the hadith legacy of the Shi‘ah is what is recorded by Aqa Muhammad Baqir Khwansari in his book Rawdat al-Jannat. He writes that al-Kulayni’s book was presented to the Hidden Imam who looked at it and declared, “Hadha Kaafin li-Shi‘atina” (This is enough for our Shi‘ah). This is incidentally how the book received its name.
A report such as this creates a huge problem. It appears to be a ratification of the contents of the book al-Kafi by the infallible Imam. Yet, 9 centuries later the Shi‘i muhaddith, Mulla Muhammad Baqir Majlisi, would declare in his commentary on al-Kafi, named Mir’at al-‘Uqul, that 9,485 out of the 16,121 narrations in al-Kafi are unreliable. What did Majlisi know that the infallible Imam was so unaware of that he would authenticate a book, 60% of whose contents would later be discovered to be unreliable?


The Iraqi Shi‘i scholar, Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr, finds proof for the existence of the Hidden Mahdi in what he calls “the experience of a community”. The existence of the Hidden Imam, he postulates, was experienced by the Shi‘i community as a whole in the written communications that the representatives used supplied them with.
The crux of this argument lies in the fact that an individual experience might be doubted, but never that of experience of an entire community. However, the glaring flaw in this line of reasoning is that it very conveniently overlooks the part of the representatives as the individual go-betweens.
The community never had the privilege of seeing or meeting the person they believed to be the author of the tawqi‘at. Their experience was limited to receiving what the representatives produced. Even the argument of a consistent handwriting in all the various tawqi‘at is at best melancholy. There is no way one can get away from the fact that the existence of the Hidden Imam rests upon nothing other than acceptance of the words of the representatives.
The activities of those representatives furthermore go a long way to show that they were much, much more inspired by the desire to possess than by pious sentiments of any kind.
So when the Shi‘ah commemorate the birth of their twelfth Imam on the 15th night of Sha‘ban, or when they seek to apply ahadith in Sunni sources which speak of twelve khalifas to their twelve Imams, then let us ask them on what basis do they accept the existence of the twelfth one?
History bears witness to the existence of eleven persons in that specific line of descent, but when we come to the twelfth one, all we have is claims made by persons whose activities in the name of their Hidden Imam give us all the reason in the world to suspect their honesty and integrity.
In Islam, issues of faith can never be based upon evidence of this kind.

Al-Raj’ah [The Return]: Imams Reincarnated Mehdi

The Shia belief centers around the idea of Imam Mehdi, or the Hidden Imam. Here, we examine the strange beliefs associated around the Mehdi.
  • Al-Raj’ah [The Return]: Imams Reincarnated

    According to the Shia, the Imams will be in reincarnated so that they can punish their enemies and rule the earth in a second life. “Al-Raj’ah” [The Return] is a fundamental of the Shia faith. Orthodox Muslims [i.e. those of the mainstream Ahlus Sunnah] abhor this pagan and Hindu-like belief in reincarnation. It is absurd and an obvious exaggeration of the Shia who simply wishes beyond wish that one day that the “dirty Nasibi Sunnis” will be punished.

    The Shia believe in this strange concept of Al-Raj’ah, which translates to “The Return.” They believe that when Imam Mehdi appears, he will first ressurect all of the enemies of Ahlel Bayt (including Abu Bakr [رضّى الله عنه], Umar [رضّى الله عنه], Uthman [رضّى الله عنه], Aisha [رضّى الله عنها], Hafsa [رضّى الله عنها], and the Sunnis) and then he will flog them and punish their reincarnated selves. According to Al-Raj’ah, Imam Mehdi will ressurect all the Prophets, Imams, and pious Shia from their graves who will then live again on this earth a second time for one primary purpose: to view the humiliation of the enemies of Ahlel Bayt as justice is meted out on them.
    According to the Shia, the Imams will be in reincarnated so that they can punish their enemies and rule the earth in a second life. Al-Raj’ah is a fundamental of the Shia faith. Orthodox Muslims [i.e. those of the mainstream Ahlus Sunnah] abhor this pagan and Hindu-like belief in reincarnation. It is absurd and an obvious exaggeration of the Shia who simply wishes beyond wish that one day that the “dirty Nasibi Sunnis” will be punished; it is indicative of their obsession with the Sunnis, in particular with their obsessive hate of the Three Caliphs and Aisha (رضّى الله عنها). They created this ridicolous belief in a second life just so that they have this dream of one day meeting and humiliating the objects of their obsession.
    This belief in Al-Raj’ah is Kufr (disbelief) because it is denying the verses in the Quran which say that Allah and Allah Alone will mete out justice to the disbelievers on the Day of Judgement. See how the Shia exaggerate with their Imams? It is their Imams who will deliver punishments to the disbelievers, instead of Allah on the Day of Judgement. We have seen so many verses in the Quran about how Allah will punish the disbelievers on the Day of Judgement; where are these mysterious and hidden verses about Imams raising up the disbelievers from the dead and punishing them?
    The Infallible Imams have stressed the importance of holding this belief of Al-Raj’ah and considered it an essential part of faith. Let us examine an authentic Shia Hadith on the matter.
    Imam al-Sadiq said:
    “The one who does not believe in our return [Al-Raj’ah] and does not consider our Mutah to be Halaal is not from us.” (al-Bihar, al-Majlisi, v53, p92, Hadith #101)
    This Hadith, which is considered Sahih by the Shia, is of course indicative of the baseness of the Shia faith: reincarnation and prostitution (Mutah). The Imam is telling the Shia that if they don’t believe in reincarnation and prostitution, then they are not from the believers but rather they are Kuffaar!
    Here is another “interesting” Hadith of the Shia.
    Imam as-Sadiq (as) said:
    “He who believes in seven things is regarded as a believer: the disavowal of idols and tyrants, the declaration of the divine leadership of the Imams, the belief of Rajaa, legality of Mutah, the illegality of the flesh of eel, and the illegality of passing the wet hands over the slippers (during the ritual ablutions).”
    Isnad [Chain of Transmission]: Ali bin Ahmed bin Abdullah narrated to us from his father from his grandfather from Ahmed bin Abi Abdullah al-Barqi from his father from Amr bin Shemr from Abdullah that Imam as-Sadiq said the following…
    This Hadith is a bit strange, to say the least. These are indeed an odd seven things to believe in. In any case, the mainstream Muslims deem this to be a repugnant belief; reincarnation is a Mushrik belief. Is “Al-Raj’ah” mentioned in the Quran? We have verse after verse about the Day of Judgement. Where is this strange concept of Al-Raj’ah? Now, to respond to this, we will find the Shia dissecting verses of the Quran and inserting different possible meanings and brackets here and there, taking verses about the Day of Judgement out of context and then saying we have to look at Shia Tafseer, then look at the verse with x-ray goggles, and thenSubhanallah the Quran mentions Al-Raj’ah!
    The Shia have made a joke of the Quran. If a Shia leader told his people that monkeys and apes are sacred, we will find the Shia then dissecting the Quran to find proof for this, or rather, to engineer the proof. The Shia can pretty much prove anything from the Quran, because to them, the Quran is an intricate puzzle. Why is this so? It is because the Quran never mentions their claims! So they have to play word games to cover it up. We ask the Shia to show us where the Quran says that the Twelvth Imam will go into hiding, and then he will raise up the dead. We do not see the Shia claims to be true when they cannot find the evidence in the Quran. We ask the Shia to show us where it says that the enemies will be flogged in this second life, and all of this fairy-tale? Why is it that the Shia fundamentals of faith can never be found in the Quran (without playing word games, that is)?
    If the Shia Imams say that we get three lives on this earth, or four, or five, you will find that the Shia will always be able to engineer proof for this in the Quran using their handy-dandy Tafseer. They will use long and complicated proofs and then satisfy themselves that the Quran says what their Imams say. The Shia will use mental and liguistic acrobatics to find meanings that are not only not apparent but are really counter-intuitive. Instead of the Shia Imams being forced to say what the Quran says, the truth is that the Quran is forced to say what the Shia Imams want them to say. This is how the Shia have exalted the speech of their Imams above the speech of Allah.
    We will find that the Shia are the most adept people on earth when it comes to engineering Daleel (evidence). They will even justify their Shia beliefs using Sunni sources. We will see Al-Islam.org and other Shia websites citing Sunni sources saying that they can prove Mutah, Taqiyyah, Imamah, etc from the Sunni sources.Subhanallah! The Shia can play word games with anything, and this is why it does not matter to the Shia what their texts say. Any text will say what they want it to say. Not unlike the Jews who manipulated their scriptures to their desires, the Shia will manipulate their scriptures to the desires of their Imams.
    The Imams of the Shia needed an outlet to vent their anger towards the Nasibis [i.e. Sunnis] so they invented this fantasy of Al-Raj’ah. One observor noted that it reminded him of the “revenge of the nerds.” Is it not disturbing that the Shia want people to be raised from the dead to witness the flogging of the wife of the Prophet? The Shia say that the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) will also be resurrected: we wonder why the Prophet (صلّى الله عليه وآله وسلّم) would allow the Mehdi to raise his own wife to flog her? These are beliefs designed by the Shia leaders to let their minions know that they beat us Sunnis in the end. Let us look at some of the Shia narrations about Al-Raj’ah, a fundamental of Shia faith.
    Mullah Baqir Majlisi writes in Haqqul Yaqeen: “When Imam Mahdi arrives, Aisha will be resurrected so that she may be given a prescribed punishment and that Fatima be vindicated.”(Haqqul Yaqeen: 347)
    When Imam Mehdi comes he will hang Abu Bakr and Umar at the holy grave of Hazrat Muhammad. (Majma-ul-ma’arif, page #49)
    Ali will come back to life. [Hayatul Quloob (urdu translation) by Basharat Husain, part 1, page 204, Imamiyah kutub khana Edition, Lahore]
    Before Qiyaamah all the Ambiya (A.S) will be back to life and assist Ali (A.S.). [Zamimah Maqbool by Maqbool Husain Dehlvi, page 46, Maqbool press Edition, Dehli].
    People mourn on the grave of Hussein (A.S.) because he was murdered and the angels were unable to assist him. But when Mehdi comes and people will return to life, the angels will help Mehdi.[Aqida-e-Raj’ah Ash shafi by Zafar Husain, part 2, page 196, chapter 60, Shameem book depot Edition, Nazimabad Karachi, New Edition]
    Before Qiyaamah, Nabi, Ali, Fatimah, Hasan, Hussein (A.S.) and a few other sincere Muslims and some kuffar will be brought back to life. [Anwar-e-Naumaniyah by Naimatullah Jazairi, part 2, page 87, Bab: Nur Fi Kayfiyyatir Raj’ah, New Iranian Edition]. .
    When the Twelvth Imam returns, he will bring Aisha to life so as to torment her. (Haq-ul-Yaqeen, Page No. 139)
    Imam Mehdi will punish Aisha with stripes. (Hayat-ul-Quloob, Vol. No. 2, Page No. 901)
    Imam Mehdi will order to hang the dead bodies of Abu Bakr and Umar. (Basair-ud-Darajat, Page No. 81)
    Imam Mehdi will exhume the bodies of Abu Bakr & Umar. (Basair-ud-Darajat, Page No. 80)
    What is interesting to note is that the average Shia has no clue about this concept of Al-Raj’ah. His first instinct is to deny that such a concept exists. Then, he goes to more knowledgeable Shia who explain to him that the Shia do indeed believe in Al-Raj’ah, and then most likely said Shia will look him straight in the face and say “so what is the big deal?” It is indeed strange how people will accept such outrageous fabrications in faith simply because they are unwilling to switch from the ideology they were born into.
    Article Written By: Ibn al-Hashimi, www.ahlelbayt.com
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