In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
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First, the issue of the coming of Mahdi has occupied the minds of Muslims over history, especially in times like these days when the Ummah suffer humiliation at the hands of its enemies and wait for a savior or a hero to take the lead and bring it out of its dilemma.
Al-Mahdi is a true Muslim who will come up before the end of time. Shedding light on this issue Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi lecturer, stated,
There are more than one authentic hadith indicating that the Mahdi, may Allah be pleased with him, will appear at the end of time. His appearance is one of the portents of the Last Day. Among the hadiths are the following:
1- Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, reports that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “At the end of the time of my Ummah, the Mahdi will appear. Allah will grant him rain, the earth will bring forth its fruits, he will give a lot of money, cattle will increase and the Muslim Ummah will become great. He will rule for seven or eight years.”
2- `Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, says: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “The Mahdi is one of us and a member of my family. Allah will guide him in a single night.” (Reported by Ahmad)
3-Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri states that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon, said: “The Mahdi is of my lineage, with a high forehead and a long, thin, curved nose. He will fill the earth with fairness and justice as it was filled with oppression and injustice, and he will rule for seven years.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi)
4- Jabir, may Allah be pleased with him, says that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: ‘‘Jesus, son of Mary, will descend, and their leader, the Mahdi, will say, ‘Come and lead us in prayer.’ But he will say, ‘No, one of them should lead them as an honor to this Ummah from Allah.” (Reported by Muslim)
You should be aware that some people have lied and fabricated hadiths about the Mahdi. Some of those “false Mahdis” have tried to deceive the servants of Allah for some worldly gain and distort the picture of Islam. Some have started movements and revolutions and gathered support from the people they deceived. But they were destroyed, and their lies and falsehood were exposed.
Thus, we have to have firm belief in all the previously mentioned hadiths. However, such hadiths have nothing to do with legislation and Islamic rulings pertaining to Halal and Haram. A Muslim should strive hard to adhere to the teachings of Islam amidst all these material trappings and temptations.
We can not expect a Muslim to suffer humiliation and failure in facing the realities of life, and then anxiously await the appearance of the Mahdi who may appear after 1,000 years or more. No one knows the exact time of his appearance except Allah. If Salahud-Deen, `Imadud-Deen Zenki, Qutuz , Nourud-Deen Mahmoud and Muhammad Al-Fateh had adopted the same policy of retreat, the Muslim Ummah would have been subjected to endless suffering at the hands of Crusaders, Tartars and others.
Second, you should know that among the Shiite sects there is a sect called Imamis or Ithna `Asharis (“Twelvers”). They are also called Rafidis because they rejected (rafada) most of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and they rejected the leadership of the Abu Bakr and `Umar, or because they rejected the imamate of Zayd ibn Ali, and deserted him.
They are called Imamis because they primarily focus on the issue of imamate, and they made it a basic principle of their religion, or because they claim that the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) explicitly stated that Ali and his descendents would be imams. They are called Ithna `Asharis (“Twelvers”) because they believe in the imamate of twelve men from the Prophet’s family (ahl al-bayt), the first of whom was Ali (may Allah be
pleased with him) and the last of whom was Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-`Askari, the supposed hidden imam, who, they say, entered a tunnel in Samarra’ in the middle of the third century AH and he is still alive therein, and they are waiting for him to come out!
This sect holds beliefs and principles which are contrary to those of Islam, such as the following:
1-They exaggeratedly exalt their imams, claiming that they are infallible, and they devote many acts of worship to them such as supplication, seeking help, offering sacrifices and tawaf (circumambulating their tombs). These acts of shirk are committed by their scholars and common folk alike, without anyone among them objecting to that.
2-They say that the Holy Qur’an has been distorted, and that things have been added and taken away. They have books concerning that which are known to their scholars and many of their common folk, and they even say that believing that the Qur’an has been distorted is an essential tenet of their beliefs.
3- They regard most of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)as kafirs, and disavow them. They even seek to draw closer to Allah by cursing and reviling them. They claim that they apostatized after the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) except very few (only seven).
This, in fact, is a rejection of the Qur’an which affirms their virtue, and says that Allah was pleased with them and chose them to accompany His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). It also implies a slur against the Qur’an itself, because it was transmitted through them; if they were disbelievers, then there is no guarantee that they did not distort it or change it. This is what the Rafidis believe anyway, as stated above.
4-They attribute bada’ to Allah, i.e., forming a new opinion that was not held before. This implies attribution of ignorance to Allah, may He be exalted.
5-Belief in raja`ah, which is the belief that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the members of his household (ahl al-bayt), Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn and the other imams will return. At the same time, Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, Mu`awiyah, Yazeed, Ibn Dhi all-Jushan and everyone who harmed ahl al-bayt – according to their claims – will also return. All of these people will return – according to their beliefs – to this world once again before the Day of Resurrection, when the Mahdi reappears. They will return in order to be punished because they harmed ahl al-bayt and transgressed against them and denied them their rights, so they will be severely punished, then they will all die, then they will be resurrected on the Day of Resurrection for the final recompense. This is what they believe.
There are other corrupt beliefs which one can find more details about in specialized books.
From the above it is clear that this doctrine is false and that it goes against the beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah. As for the imams to whom they claim to belong, they are innocent of this lie and falsehood.
Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) divided the Imams of the Ithna ‘Ashari Shi’ah into four categories:
1 – Ali ibn Abi Talib, al-Hasan and al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with them). They are noble Companions and no one doubts their virtue and leadership, but many others shared with them the virtue of being Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and among the Companions there are others who were more virtuous than them, based on authentic evidences from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
2 – Ali ibn al-Husayn, Muhammad ibn Ali al-Baqir, Ja`far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq and Musa ibn Ja`far. They are among the trustworthy and reliable scholars.
3 – Ali ibn Musa al-Rida, Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Musa al-Jawad, Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Ali al-‘Askari, and al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn Muhammad al-‘Askari. Concerning them, Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said:
They did not show a great deal of knowledge such that the Ummah might benefit from them, nor did they have any authority by means of which they could help the Ummah. Rather they were like any other Hashimis, they occupy a respected position, and they have sufficient knowledge of what which is needed by them and expected of people like them. It is a type is knowledge that is widely available to ordinary Muslims. But the type of knowledge that is exclusive to the scholars was not present in their case. Therefore, seekers of knowledge did not receive from them what they received from the other three. Had they had that which was useful to seekers of knowledge, they would have sought it from them, as seekers of knowledge are well aware of where to go for knowledge.
4 – Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-‘Askari al-Muntazar (the awaited one). He has never existed.
And Allah knows best.