An Introduction to Muntakhabul Asar

The full name of this book is “Muntakhabul Asar Fee Al Imam al-Saani al-Ashar.” It is in Arabic language and has been written by Ayatullah Lutfullah Safi Gulpaygani (ar).Before beginning with the book, we feel it is important to mention a few words about its author –  Ayatullah Lutfullah Saafi Gulpaygani (ar). He was born on the 19th Jamaadi Al Awwal 1337 AH in the city of Gulpaygan, Iran. His father, Ayatullah Akhund Mullah  Mohammed Jawaad Saafi, was one of the renowned scholars of his time and had penned many books. His mother was the daughter of Ayatullah Akhund Mullah Muhammad Ali (ra), also a renowned scholar. She was a religious and knowledgeable lady.

After studying the basic Islamic teachings from his father, he learnt the fundamentals of Rasael, Makaasib and Kefaayah (these three books form part of the core curriculum in all religious seminaries) from the esteemed scholar of Gulpaygan – Akhund Mullah Abul Qasim. In 1360 Hijri, he travelled to the city of Qum, where five teachers taught him viz.

  1. Haaj Sayyed Muhammad Taqi-e-Khunsaari (ra)
  2. Haaj Sayyed Muhammad Jehat Kowekamri (ra)
  3. Haaj Sayyed Sadruddin Sadr Aameli (ra)
  4. Haaj Sayyed Muhammad Husain Burujardi (ra)
  5. Haaj Sayyed Muhammad Reza Gulpaygani (ra)

Besides Qum, he even traveled to Najaf-e-Ashraf in his quest for knowledge. There he learnt under some of the greatest scholars (Mujtahedeen) and teachers like

  1. Haaj Shaikh Muhammad Kaazim Shirazi (ra)
  2. Haaj Sayyed Jamaluddin Gulpaygani (ra)
  3. Haaj Shaikh Muhammad Ali (ra) But the one who sharpened his thinking and took him to the stage of Marjaeeyat (a stage when the Mujtahid is referred to by the people for religious edicts) was none other than the great thinker with deep understanding of Islamic principles – Ayatullah Haaj Burujardi (ra) – the epitome of knowledge and humility, who commands great respect amongst the Shiite jurists.

Ayatullah Lutfullah Safi has written over a hundred books on various topics. To mention the details of these books would involve writing another article altogether. Suffice it is to say that only on Imam Mahdi (as), apart from Muntakhabul Asar, he has written many books, some of which are as follows:

  1. Naveed-e-Amno Amaan
  2. Aqeede Aazadiye Najis
  3. Besooyeh Daulate Kareemeh
  4. Furrooghe Wilayat Dar Dua-e-Nudba
  5. Wabastageehe Jahan Be Imam-e-Zaman (as)
  6. Marefate Hujjate Khuda – Exposition of the Supplication – Allahumma Arifini Nafsak

These books have been written in Persian and are considered among the best works on the subject. Let us revert to our discussion on Muntakhabul Asar.

A treasure-trove of Imam Mahdi’s (as) Recognition

As mentioned earlier – the book has over 500 pages. There are over 6,000 traditions in the book along with references for each. After researching the book, one can conclude that it has sourced traditions from nearly 70 books of the Ahle Sunnah scholars and 9 Shiite references, whose names can be referred to in the bibliography at the very start of the book.

Download: Muntakhabul Asar V1

Preface

Anyone who has studied history and is aware of the glad tidings of the Holy Prophet (sawa) and is cognizant of the sayings of the companions of the Holy Prophet (sawa) regarding the last era and the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as) is aware of the reality that Imam Mahdi (as) will cleanse the earth of ignorance and oppression. He will abolish tyranny, establish justice, raise the slogan of Allah’s Unity (Tauheed) and make Islam dominant even if the idolaters are averse to it. On divine command, Imam (as) will abrogate all deviant forms of worship so that eventually only Allah is worshipped. Bad ethics and habits will be abolished as also laws legislated by man to serve his selfish interests and ends. Through his reappearance, Allah will fulfill His Promise. (Preface page 1)

Based on Allah’s promise, the author has brought verses from the Holy Quran to awaken man’s sleeping intellect and then writes, “this (promise) is something over which the entire Muslim nation is united and none has cast any aspersion or doubted this consensus. Right from the beginning till date, all those who have claimed the position of Imam Mahdi (the Pretenders) have used these divine promises and glad tidings as the preface for the claim.” (Preface, page 2)

Note: If there was no mention of the belief of the Mahdi in Holy Quran and traditions of the Holy Prophet (sawa) (i.e. Sunnah), how could the pretenders of the position of the Mahdi get away with their fictitious claims? Certainly, the first objection of the Muslims would have been that there is no concept of ‘Mahdi’ in Islam and there is no prophecy of the same in the Holy Quran and/or traditions. A forged coin is proof enough of the existence of the original.

Skepticism about the Mahdi (as)

Some skeptics have eyed the traditions on the reappearance of Mahdi (as) with suspicion. They have claimed that the narrators of such traditions are unreliable. This has paved the way for differences and animosity among the Muslims. The author, in the light of traditions, replies: “The chain of narrators can be considered weak when the news is not reliable. When the news is authentic and consecutively narrated, the reliability of the chain of narrators is not a criterion (for accepting the tradition).”  (Preface, page 2)

He further states, To believe in rulings that cannot be authenticated except through hearing and acknowledgement does not have greater benefit than believing in the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as). Of course, we do not claim that the belief in the reappearance of Mahdi (as) has greater importance than the beliefs in other rulings on which Muslims have more faith. Even though the Muslims have not scrutinized the chain of narrators, the rulings are accepted on the basis of a single tradition. So, the Muslims must not entertain doubts regarding the reappearance of Mahdi (as). (Preface, pg. 2)

As one reads the preface, the arguments advocating the reappearance of Mahdi (as) get more and more detailed.

The reason for writing the book

With the completion of the preface, it is appropriate to discuss why the author chose to write this book ‘Surely, the reason for compiling this book (Muntakhabul Asar) is to make the readers aware of the occultation and to expose and falsify the claims of the false Mahdis during the last era. This has assumed importance because our enemies do not miss out on any opportunity to create a rift between the Muslims and inflame the fire of hatred so as to keep Muslims involved and engrossed in conflicts and dissent. One such rift that has engulfed the Muslim community in crisis is the subject of the Promised Mahdi’ (Preface, pages 6-7)

This statement of Ayatullah Lutfullah Safi is particularly relevant when you consider that so many individuals have claimed the position of Imam Mahdi on the pretext of eliminating falsehood and establishing peace. We find several imposters who were low on morals but very high on greed for wealth and status from  ations like Iran , India and Africa who claimed to be the Promised Mahdi.

The author further elaborates that these imposters abused and whitewashed the minds of the common masses by attributing themselves with the characteristics, signs and other facets narrated by the Holy Prophet (sawa) for Imam Mahdi (as). Since the common Muslim was not well-versed with these prophetic forecasts about the Mahdi, he proved easy prey for these imposters.

‘That is why we have collected these traditions (related to the Mahdi) from the reliable books of the Shias as also the Ahle Sunnah.’ (Preface, page 8)

10 Parts and 100 Chapters

It is an uphill task to give a concise introduction and enlighten about the concepts of a book that runs into more than 500 pages. We seek grace from Allah and help from Imam Mahdi (as) in introducing this book and in highlighting its rich concepts in the best possible manner.

First Part (Pg. 10-14)

Imams (as) are 12 in number. This part has 8 chapters. Jabir Ibne Samarah says that he heard the Holy Prophet (sawa) saying: ‘There will be 12 caliphs after me’. Then, he (sawa) said a sentence which I could not hear. Later my father told me that the Holy Prophet (sawa) said, ‘They will all be from the Quraysh’. (Part 1 Chapter 1 Tradition 1)

Jabir Ibne Samarah relates, “The Holy Prophet (sawa) prophesied, ‘This religion will remain of great importance till the time 12 caliphs will be in it. On hearing this, the people cried out ‘Allah is Great!’

This led to an uproar in the crowd. After that he (sawa) said something which I was not able to hear clearly. I asked my father later about what the Holy Prophet (sawa) had said. He replied that the Holy Prophet had prophesied, ‘All of them (12 caliphs) will be from Quraysh.’ (Part 1, Chapter 1, Tradition 2)

The author has sourced this tradition from Sunan-e-Abi Dawood. (Kitab Al Mahdi vol. 2, pg. 207, Egyptian edition) By introducing such traditions sourced from Abu Dawood (one of the most reliable Ahle Sunnah scholars) in Kitab Al Mahdi, the author has proved beyond doubt that Imam Mahdi (as) is among the 12 caliphs of Islam prophesied by the Holy Prophet (sawa). He writes: ‘Undoubtedly, by recording such traditions in his book Kitab Al Mahdi, Abu Dawood has made it clear that he believes that Imam Mahdi is among the 12 caliphs, else why would he record such a tradition under that chapter in his celebrated book.’ (Muntakhabul Asar, page 12)

It should be noted that the belief in 12 Imams (as) ‘Aimma Isna Ashar’ pertains only to the Shiah Imamia. Others have the belief that Islam will not perish until there are 12 caliphs in its midst. Some others maintain that the respect and importance of Islam is only there till the 12 caliphs exist, while some hold that till the time the 12 caliphs exist, Islam will survive till the Day of Judgment and the existence of the 12 caliphs is linked to the existence of the world. Some acknowledge that there will be 12 caliphs and they will be from the clan of Bani Hashim; this is similar to the Shiite belief about the 12 caliphs.

The crux of all the traditions is that there will be 12 caliphs; one succeeding the other. Readers should note that the characteristics of the 12 caliphs can only be found in the 12 Imams of the Ahle Bayt (as). (page 14, footnote)

In this part, there are several other chapters, some of which have been mentioned below:

  1. The number of caliphs (of Islam) is similar to the number of caliphs of Bani Israel.
  2. Imams (as) are 12 in number and the first among them is Ameerul Momeneen Ali Ibn Abi Talib (as) and the last is the son of Imam Hasan al-Askari, the Promised Mahdi (as). Second Part (Pg. 141-319)

In this part there are 49 chapters, in which traditions regarding Imam Mahdi (as) have been compiled from reliable Ahle Sunnah and Shia books. Although, we cannot reproduce all the topics in these chapters over here, we have shortlisted some of the important topics like

  • the tidings regarding the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as),
  • Imam Mahdi (as) is from the house of the Holy Prophet (Ahle Bait (as)),
  • Imam Mahdi (as) is from the progeny of Imam Husain (as), as also Imam Sajjad (as) and in this way from the progeny of the other infallible Imams (as) of the Ahle Bait (as) ending in his father, Imam Hasan Askari (as).

Janabe Umme Salmah (ra) says that she heard the Holy Prophet (sawa) saying, ‘He (Mahdi) is from the sons of Fatemah (sa)’  (page 191)

Holy Prophet (sawa) said: ‘I swear by the One Who has the power over my being, without doubt, the one (Mahdi) behind whom Hazrat Esa (as) will offer prayers (namaz) is from us. The he put his hand on the shoulder of Imam Husain (as) and said: He (Mahdi) will be from his (Imam Husain’s (as)) progeny.’  (Pg. 199)Tradition 2 of Chapter 27)

Ameerul Momeneen (as) said to Asbagh Ibne Nobatah (ra), ‘He (Mahdi) will indeed go into occultation while the ignorant will say that Allah is not in need of the progeny of Mohammed (sawa).’ (Pg. 255)

Third Part: (Pg. 320-358)

In this part, there are three chapters; one regarding the birth of Imam Mahdi (as), the other about the peculiarities (related to birth) and the time of birth and the third about the condition of Imam’s (as) mother.

Imam Hasan Askari (as) informs: ‘The vicegerent of Allah and a sign over His creatures and the caliph after me was born on the night of 15th Shabaan in 255 Hijri at dawn.’ (Pg. 320)

In this part, after compiling various traditions on Imam’s (as) birth, the author has written a long, approximately 20-page footnote, which in fact, can make for a small booklet. The author has collected the views of over 65 prominent and revered Ahle Sunnah scholars regarding the birth of Imam Mahdi (as). There are some Indian names in this list like Maulvi Ali Akbar Ibne Asadullah Maudoodi Hindi, Shaikh Abdul Al Rahman Hindi, Shah Waliullah Dahelvi (author of Tohfa Isna Ashariyyah and father of Shah Abdul Aziz) and Fazil Rashiduddin Dahelvi. After reading the footnote, it becomes apparent that several Ahle Sunnah scholars are of the view that Imam Mahdi (as) was in fact born in the year 255 Hijri.

Fourth Part (Pg. 358-400)

In this part there are three chapters:

  1. Imam Mahdi’s (as) meeting with some people in the minor occultation (Ghaybate’ Sughra).
  2. Imam’s (as) miracles during that period.
  3. Imam’s (as) special companions.
  4. During the short occultation, the four special deputies (Nuwwab-e-Khaas) used to regularly meet Imam Mahdi (as).
  5. Apart from the four special deputies, many other people have met Imam (as).
  6. Imam Mahdi (as) was often seen in the environs of the Holy Kaabah.
  7. Imam’s (as) uncle – Jafar has seen him several times. On the demise of Imam’s (as) grandmother, (Imam Hasan Askari’s (as) mother) Jafar created a ruckus at her burial. Imam (as) was present at that time.
  8. Ali Ibne Mahziyaar Al Ahwaazi met Imam Mahdi (as).
  9. Imam Mahdi (as) taught 30 people the supplication to be recited at the Pillar of Mustajaar, which is one of the four pillars of the Holy Kaabah.

Apart from these concepts the esteemed author, in this footnote, has discussed and given many arguments on various important topics. The reason for occultation and the incidents of the cellar (sardaab) and the bickering and squabbling of the enemies have been answered here. In addition to this, the honesty, trustworthiness and reliability of the four special deputies have also been discussed.

Fifth Part (Pg. 401-420)

In this part there are two chapters, about Imam’s (as) condition in the major occultation (Ghaybate’ Kubra), his miracles and about the people who have had the good fortune of meeting him in this period. In the first chapter itself, the incident of Ismail Ibne Al Hasan Al Harqali’s meeting with Imam Mahdi (as) is narrated. The first chapter of this part mentions incidents in which Imam Mahdi (as) either miraculously cured a person or gave him freedom from an oppressive ruler.

We are narrating the seventh tradition, which emphasizes the benefits and characteristics of invoking Allah through the Imams (as).

This incident occurred in Rabi al-Awwal 442 AH. Abul Wafa Shirazi says that the ruler of Kirman, Abu Ali Ilyas, had captured and imprisoned him. His courtesans had informed him that the ruler had already decided to punish him. As a result, he was very depressed and used to pray to Allah through the media of Holy Prophet (sawa) and the immaculate Imams (as). He narrates, ‘One Thursday after reciting a supplication I fell asleep. The Holy Prophet (sawa) came in my dream and said to me: ‘Only ask those things from me, my daughter (Janabe Fatima (s.a.)) and my sons (Hasan (as) and Husain (as)) that will make you closer to Allah’s worship and acquire His pleasure and consent. Yes, O my brother! Abul Hasan (Hazrat Ali ((as)) is the one who will take revenge from the one who has oppressed you’. ‘I asked the Holy Prophet (sawa) how he would take revenge against the one who has oppressed me, when he himself had a rope around his neck and was unable to do anything? His right was usurped while he did not utter a single word!

The narrator says that the Holy Prophet (sawa) was surprised and told me: ‘This was a promise which I have taken from him (as) and a command which I have given him and he will for surely fulfill it and will give full justification in this regard. Destruction is for the one who has fought against the appointed one of Allah. As far as Ali Ibne Husain is concerned, he is the one who will give deliverance from the clutches of evil rulers and creatures. (i.e. for deliverance from evil rulers and creatures one should seek help from Ali Ibne Husain (as)) and from Muhammad Ibne Ali (Imam Muhammad Baqir (as)) and Jafar Ibne Muhammad (Imam Sadiq (as)) seek the hereafter and through them you should ask for Allah’s obedience. Through Musa Ibne Jafar (Imam Musa Kazim (as)) one should ask from Allah for a fortunate ending and through Ali Ibne Musa Raza (as) you should ask safety from famine and storms. Through Muhammad Ibne Ali (Imam Muhammad Taqi (as)) ask Allah for sustenance and through Ali Ibne Muhammad (Imam Ali Naqi (as)) ask Allah for taufeeq for recommended prayers, good deeds with brothers and for divine proximity and from Hasan Ibne Ali (Imam Hasan Askari (as)) seek the hereafter. And when there is a sword on your head and the hands of the enemies reach your neck, ask help at that moment from Saahebuz Zaman (as). Surely, he will help you.’

The narrator says – ‘I called out in my sleep itself ‘O Sahebuzaman Adrikni’ even though I had exhausted my strength. The guards were unshackling me when I woke up.’ (Pg. 409)

The second chapter is about those who have seen Imam Mahdi (as) during the major occultation. The first incident is about Muqaddas Ardabeli (ra). He had a conversation first with Ameerul Momeneen (as) in his shrine in Najaf and then with Imam Mahdi (as) in Masjid-e-Kufa. (Read more)

Eight incidents are narrated involving those who had the good fortune of meeting Imam Mahdi (as) in the major occultation.

Sixth Part (Pg. 421-469)

In this part there are 11 chapters mentioning the signs of reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as) and incidents which will occur before the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as)

Imam Sadiq (as) informed, The verse “Who answers the distressed one when he calls upon Him” has been revealed in favor of Qaem Aale Mohammed (as). When Imam Mahdi (as) will recite two rakat prayer in Maqam-e-Ibrahim (as), he will be the distressed (referred to in the Quranic verse). He will pray to Allah and Allah will grant the supplication and will solve his difficulties and will make him the ruler of the earth.’ (Part 6, chapter 1, tradition 5)

Holy Prophet (sawa) said: ‘At that time what will be your state when your ladies will become disrespectful to you, your youth will indulge in bad actions and you will neither exhort towards good nor prohibit from evil.’ I (Salman) asked: O Prophet of Allah will this really come to pass? He (sawa) said:  Yes, and still worse will be that virtue will be considered as vice while vice will be considered as virtue. (Part 6, chapter 2, tradition 3)

All traditions in this part are pertaining to the people living in this era. We are already witnessing some of the foretelling. Many of the prophecies have already come to pass and given the state of the world, indications are that the balance will also come to pass very soon. In the third chapter, one tradition has been narrated from Ameerul Momeneen (as): “When a caller from the sky will announce ‘Truth is with the progeny of Mohammed’, the name of Imam Mahdi’s (as) will resonate everywhere and the masses will be extremely joyous (at his reappearance).”  (Part 6, chapter 3, tradition 19)

Imam Sadiq (as) has said: ‘A caller will call out to Hazrat Qaim (as) with his father’s name on that day Hazrat Qaim (as) will reappear.’(Part 6, chapter 4, tradition 2)

One person asked Imam Sadiq (as): ‘When will your Qaem reappear?’ Imam replied: ‘When deviation will be widespread, guidance will be sparse, tyranny and oppression will be excessive, morals and guidance minimal. Men will satisfy themselves with other men and women with other women. Jurists will be inclined towards the world. People will prefer poetry and poets; the innovators in religion will be transformed into monkeys and pigs. Sufyani will be killed and Dajjal will rise’ (Part 6, chapter 9, tradition 5)

Seventh Part (Pg. 470-483)

In the 12 chapters in this part, the conditions after the reappearance have been discussed.

Imam Mohammed Baqir (as) narrates a tradition: ‘Allah will make Imam Mahdi (as) and his companions the rulers of the East and West. Islam will be the dominant religion. Through Imam (as) and his companions, Allah will eliminate innovation and ignorance just as falsehood and ignorance eliminate the truth. Then there will  be no trace of oppression. They will exhort towards good and refrain from evil. Eventually, the consequence of the affair is with Allah alone.’  (Part 7, chapter 1, tradition 1)

When Qaem of Aale Muhammad (as) will reappear, Allah will congregate the people of East and West. They will assemble in the same manner as the rain clouds gather (just before the rains). (Part 7, chapter 2, tradition 1)

Imam Baqir (as) said: ‘Without doubt, Hazrat Isa (as) will descend on the earth before the Day of Judgment Hazrat Isa (as) will recite prayers behind Imam Mahdi (as).’

In a long tradition, the Holy Prophet (sawa) has said: ‘The day Dajjal will emerge, 70,000 Jews, illegitimate children, drunkards, musicians, men indulging in vain talks and sport, ignorant Arabs and women will join forces with him. He (Dajjal) will make adultery, sodomy and all other prohibited acts permissible. Matters will reach a stage that man will indulge in excesses with women (adultery) and boys (sodomy) openly. The whole world will be conquered by him except Makkah, Madinah and the graves of the Imams (as). He will cross all barriers and the earth will be overwhelmed with his and his helpers’ atrocities. Finally, he will be slain by Imam Mahdi (as), behind whom Hazrat Isa (as) will pray.’ (Part 7, chapter 9, tradition 2)

Imam Baqir (as) says: ‘When our Qaim will reappear, Allah will perfect the intellects of His Servants and this will make their bodies flawless.’ (Part 7, chapter 12, tradition 1)

Eighth Part (Pg. 483-486)

In this part there are two chapters, which contain the conditions of Imam’s companions and helpers. Ameerul Momeneen (as) informed: ‘The companions of Mahdi (as) will be young and the number of their old ones will be very few, like kohl in the eyes or salt in the meal.’ (Part 8, chapter 1, tradition 3)

Ninth Part (Pg. 487-491)

There are three chapters in this part in which the period of Imam Mahdi’s (as) caliphate, and the condition of the people in his era, have been explained. Imam Sadiq (as) was asked: ‘How many years will the Qaem rule the world?’ Imam informed: ‘For seven years, where each year is similar to your seventy years.’

Tenth Part (Pg. 492-525)

In this there are seven chapters. About the Promised Mahdi (as), the Holy Prophet (sawa) warned: ‘Anyone who denies the Qaim (as), (who is) from among my sons, has actually denied me’.

The Importance of Awaiting (Intezaar)

Imam (as) declared, ‘May Allah have mercy on the one who has abandoned his aspirations for our sake. May Allah have mercy on the one who enlivens our affairs!’

The narrator asked, ‘And if I die before the reappearance of Hazrat Qaem (as)? Imam (as) replied:  ‘Among you are the ones who say that if I am alive at the time of Hazrat Qaem (as), I will help him. They are like the ones who have fought alongside Imam (as) and attained martyrdom.’ (Part 10, chapter 2, tradition 4)

The chapters after this have supplications, whose recitation has been emphasized. The author has collected many supplications and has also mentioned references from other books. About Muntakhabul Asar, the great scholar Agha Buzurgh-e-Tehrani (ra) writes, ‘I have not seen any book (in so much detail) on this topic (Imam Mahdi (as).’ Shaykh Habeeb Muhajir Aalemi has written   in his book: ‘It is necessary for every believer that he should have a personal copy of this book.’

O Allah! Please increase our recognition and enlist us among Imam’s (as) companions and helpers. Aameen!

Please Note: In this particular article, we have considered the edition of Muntakhab Al- Asar, which is in one volume. Recently, another edition in three volumes has been published that has a detailed analysis of traditions and has significant supporting material to the original book.

Read More on Books on Imam Mahdi (as)

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