An Introduction to Imam Mahdi (as)

A Short Biography of Imam Mahdi (as)

Hazrat Imam Mahdi (as) is the twelfth and last of the chain of the Purified Imams (as) and the divine successors. He was born at the time of dawn, on Friday the 15th of Shabaan 255 AH in the city of Samarrah. (Kamaluddin volume 2, pages 424, 428, 433)

His respected father is Imam Hasan al-Askari (as). His beloved mother is Janab al-Narjis Khatoon (sa). She was the descendant of the Caesar of Rome from her father’s side and from her mother’s side, she had descended from Hazrat Shamoon, the vicegerent of Hazrat Isa (as). (Kamaluddin volume 2 pages 420, 424)

Read more: Parents of Imam Mahdi (as)

Imam Mahdi (as) has the same name and kunniyat (agnomen) as the Holy Prophet (sawa). His titles are Mahdi, Hujjat, Qaem, Muntazar, Sahib Az-Zaman and Khalafus Saleh. His most famous title however is Al-Mahdi (as). (Al Fusoolul Muhimma page 292; Nurul Absaar page 168)

Ibn Khallikaan writes; “His well-known title is Hujjat. The Shiahs know him by the titles, Muntazar, Qaem and Mahdi” (Wafayatui Ayaan volume 4 page 176)

The great scholar Mohaddith al-Noori has collected 182 titles of Imam Mahdi (as) from the Islamic texts in his book Najmus Saaqib. Each of these titles signify each of his virtuous qualities. (Najmus Saaqib pages 41-98)

Birth of Imam Mahdi (as)

The tyrant Abbasid rulers were aware of the prophecies of the Holy Prophet (sawa). That the son of Imam Hasan al-Askari (as) by the name of Mahdi will appear to remove all kinds of corruption and tyranny; hence they planned to eliminate the child when he is bom. Due to this the birth of Imam Mahdi (as) was kept a secret like that of Hazrat Musa (as). So much so that except for the most trusted of the Shiahs and his own family, no one knew of the existence of Hazrat (as). (Read More)

Despite this, whenever there was an opportunity, Imam Hasan al-Askari (as) introduced his son to his trustworthy followers; that in future they may follow him. This was in order that the Shiahs may remain firm upon the right path, and not be led astray. A servant Abu Ghanim says, “Abu Mohammed (as) has a son whose name is Mohammed.” On the third day of his birth he brought him before his companions and said, “After me he is your Master of the affair, he is my successor, he is the same ‘Qaem’, who is awaited by alt When the earth will be fraught with injustice and oppression then he will reappear and fill the earth with justice and righteousness.” (Kamaluddin volume 2 page 431)

Imamate of Hazrat Mahdi (as)

The early years of his life were spent in the usual way. When he was in his fifth year, he lost his respected father. After this tragic event the responsibility of guiding the Shiahs was transferred upon him. At this time, Hazrat (as) possessed all the qualities and the divine knowledge that was bestowed upon the previous Imams (as), by the Almighty. In the same way as Hazrat Yahya (as) in his childhood and Hazrat Isa (as) in his infancy was favoured with the divine office of Prophethood by Allah. (Surah Maryam, verses 12 and 30)

Ghaybat (Occultation) of Imam Mahdi (as)

Although all the Imams (as) were holding the divine office of wilayat, the efforts of the enemies to eliminate the twelfth Imam (as) were maximum. Hence Imam Mahdi (as) was entrusted to Ghaybat (concealment) and while in Ghaybat, he had to fulfill all the duties of the Imam.

The concealed life of Hazrat Mahdi (as) is not something extraordinary. Rather, in the life of so many Prophets (as) and even Imams (as) it is seen, that they were at some time, in concealment from the people. The Holy Quran records the concealment of various prophets (as) like

The Holy Prophet (sawa) and the Imams (as) had pointed out to the people the imminent occultation of their last proof (Imam Mahdi), so that no doubt or misunderstanding should remain regarding this problem.

The occultation (Ghaybat) of the twelfth Imam was in two phases: one is Ghaybat al-Sughra (minor occultation) and the second is Ghaybat al-Kubra (greater occultation).

Imam Sadiq (as) said, There are two occultations for Qaem. One is short and the other prolonged. In the short occultation only the special Shiahs will know of his whereabouts. And in the longer occultation only his trustworthy servants will know where he is. (Al Kafi volume 1 page3 40; Ghaybat Nomani page 180)

The minor occultation (Ghaybat al-Sughra) commenced from the year of his Imamat in 260 A.H and continued for 69 years. During the period of Ghaybat al-Sughra, Imam Mahdi (as) himself appointed his deputies from among the righteous Shiahs. Four of them succeeded each other and continued to fulfill the duty of intermediaries. These four personalities conveyed the questions and problems to Imam (as) and brought back the Imam’s (as) answers for the people.

The first of these deputies was Janab Abu Amroo Usman Bin Saeed Amri. Before this he was a representative of Imam Hasan al Askari (as) (Al Kafi volume 1 page 340, Ayanush Shiah volume 2 page 46)

Shaykh Tusi writes, “On the fortieth day the Shiahs were sitting in the company of Imam Hasan al-Askari (as), when Imam Askari (as) wished that they recognise his Hujjat after him….. Suddenly a handsome child was brought before them. He resembled Abu Mohammed al-Askari (as).

Then Imam al-Askari (as) said, “He is your Imam after me. And my successor upon you. Obey him, and do not go astray after me (after my death), otherwise your religion shall be destroyed and you will be annihilated. Know that, after today you shall not see him, even if you spend your whole life for it. Hence, accept what Usman tells you, obey his commands and listen to what he says. Because he is the representative of your Imam and holds the responsibility. (Ghaybat al-Tusi page 357)

After the death of Usman bin Saeed, his pious son, Mohammed bin Usman succeeded his father upon the post of the deputyship of Imam az-Zaman (as). (Ghaybat al-Tusi page 362)

Shaikh Tusi has recorded the letters sent by Imam Hasan al Askari (as) and Imam Mahdi (as) to Usman bin Saeed and his son Abu Jafar Mohammed ibne Usman for the Shiahs. These letters consists of commands, prohibitions and replies to the questions of the Shiahs. (Ghaybat al-Tusi page 356)

Mohammed ibne Usman passed away from this world at the end of Jamadi-ul-Awwal in the year 304 or 305 AH (Ghaybat al-Tusi page 366)

During the time of his illness, as he laid on the sick-bed, the Shiahs and their children came and surrounded him. They asked, “If something happens, whom should we consult instead of you?” He answered, “Abul Qasim Husayn ibne Ruh ibne Bahr Nawbakhti is my successor. And he is the intermediary between you and the Master affair (Imam Mahdi), and his agent. He is trustworthy and reliable. Consult him, and in case of important matters, rely upon him. I have been ordered to announce this, and I have announced it” (Ghaybat al-Tusi pages 371-372)

Husain Ibne Ruh Nawbakhti, the third special deputy was one of the agents of Mohammed ibn Usman in Baghdad. He had been working closely with him for a long time. These agents used to be in contact with the people and when ordered they handed over the goods to them. (Ghaybat al-Tusi page 369-372)

Husayn ibn Ruh died in Shaban 326 AH (Ghaybat al-Tusi page 387)

The last representative was Abul Hasan Ali Ibn Mohammed Seymoori. He became the deputy of Imam Mahdi (as) according to the will of Husain ibn Ruh. He died after three years on the 15th of Shaban 329 AH (Ghaybat al-Tusi page 394)

The graves (tombs) of these four respected deputies are situated in Baghdad. (Ghaybat al-Tusi pages 358, 366, 376, 396)

The most sensitive and crucial period of Ghaybat al-Sughra was when Ali Ibn Mohammad died. Because till his death the people were in contact with Imam Mahdi (as) through him. After his death, it was the commencement of Ghaybat al-Kubra.

Six days before his death, Ali ibn Mohammed Seymoori received a communication from Imam Mahdi (as), “…so be prepared, but appoint no one in your place, because from the day of your death, the period of my major occupation (Ghaybat al-Kubra) will begin. Henceforth, no one will see me, unless and until Allah makes me appear. My reappearance will take place after a very long time, when the world will be full of injustice and violence”. (Kamaluddin volume 2 page 516; Ghaybat al-Tusi page 395)

Our Duties

Ultimately, the shining sun of the divine proof went behind the curtain of Ghaybat completely. And the period of communication with Hazrat through the special deputies came to an end. In spite of this (his Ghaybat) Hazrat Mahdi (as) is the Imam of the time and Imam of the world. He is the Divine Proof. Even though his person may be hidden from our eyes but his commands are clear.

Ameerul Momineen Ali (as) announced from his pulpit at Kufa, even if Divine Proof (Hujjat of Allah) is hidden while he guides the people, his knowledge and manners will be clear for them to follow. (Kamaluddin volume 1 Page 302)

It is clear that the knowledge and practice of Imam Asr (as) is impeccable like the Quran. As was the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (sawa). It is obligatory for the people of faith (muslims) to act upon the Quran and sunnat, and to refrain from what they prohibit.

The Holy Prophet (sawa) said, “I leave behind two weighty things among you – The Book of Allah and my Progeny, my Ahlul Bayt If you adhere to those two you shall not go astray. And know that these two shall not separate till they meet me at Hauz (Kauthar)” (Yanabiul Mawaddah Page 35)

During the period of Ghaybat al-Kubra, when it is not possible to establish communication with Imam Mahdi (as) at will, the people have been ordered to follow the true teachings of the Quran and Ahlul Bayt (as) through the pious and religious scholars and the just jurists. The people must follow them to know what obligations they are supposed to fulfill. (Read More)

Imam as-Sadiq (as) said, And among jurists (Fuqaha) are those who protect themselves (from sins) guard their religion, defy their carnal desires and are obedient to their master. It is incumbent upon the people to follow them. Such characteristics are found only in a few of them (Shiahs) and not all. (Tafsir Al Imam Askari Page 300)

The jurists issue decrees for the people and explain to them truth about faith. They endeavour to fulfill the exalted duty of preparing the grounds for the reappearance of their master, Hazrat Mahdi (as). So that by the coming of Hazrat (as) the Islamic faith may strengthen and that he may fill the earth with justice and equity.

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