Hazrat Isa and Imam Mahdi (as) –  Two Different Individuals

Some people have confused the positions of Imam Mahdi (as) and Hazrat Isa (as) by saying that they mean the same person. This is the primary belief of Qadianis. However this belief is incorrect. Hazrat Isa (as) is a prophet and messenger of Allah, whereas Imam Mahdi (as) is an Imam. Also both of them are two different individuals as is very evident from the traditions below.

It is narrated in Sahih Muslim that, Jabir Ibn Abdullah Ansari said, I heard the Messenger of Allah (sawa) saying, A group of my Ummah will fight for the truth until near the day of judgment when Isa, the son of Mary, will descend, and the leader of them will ask him to lead the prayer, but Isa will decline, saying, No, Verily, among you Allah has made leaders for others and He has bestowed his bounty upon them.

References:

  • Sahih Muslim, Arabic, part 2 page 193
  • Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal volume 3 pages 45, 384
  • al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami chapter 11 section 1 page 251
  • Nuzool Isa Ibn Maryam Akhir al-Zaman by Jalaluddin al-Suyuti page 57
  • Musnad, by Abu Ya’ala which provides another version of the tradition with more clear words on the authority of Jabir that the Messenger of Allah (sawa) said, A group among my Ummah will continue to fight for the truth until Isa, the son of Mary, will descend, and the Imam of them will ask him to lead the prayer, but Isa will reply, You have more right to it, and verily Allah has honored some of you over others in this Ummah.
  • Sahih Ibn Habban, whose tradition reads: “their leader Mahdi” and the rest of tradition is the same.
  • Ibn Abu Shaybah, another Sunni traditionalist, and the mentor of al-Bukhari and Muslim, has reported several traditions about Imam Mahdi (as). He has also reported that the Imam of the Muslims who will lead Hazrat Isa in prayer is Imam Mahdi himself.

Who is more meritorious – Isa or the Mahdi?

Jalaluddin al-Suyuti mentioned that: “I have heard some of the deniers of (truth) deny what has been conveyed about Hazrat Isa (as) that when he descends will pray the Fajr prayer behind Mahdi. They say, Isa has higher status than to pray behind a non-Prophet.”

This is a bizarre opinion since the issue of prayer of Jesus behind Mahdi has been proven strongly via numerous authentic traditions from the Messenger of Allah (sawa). And then al-Suyuti goes on narrating some of the traditions in this regard. (See Nuzool Isa Ibn Maryam Akhir al-Zaman, by Jalaluddin al-Suyuti, page 56).

Also al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani mentioned that, the Mahdi is of this Ummah, and that Isa (as) will come down and pray behind him. (Fath al-Bari, by Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani volume 5 page 362)

This is also mentioned by another Sunni scholar, Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, who wrote, The Ahle Bayt are like the stars through whom we are guided in the right direction, and if the stars are taken away (or hidden) we would come face to face with the signs of the Almighty as promised (i.e., the Day of Resurrection). This will happen when the Mahdi will come, as mentioned in the traditions, and the Prophet Isa will recite prayers behind him, the Dajjal will be slain, and then the signs of the Almighty will appear one after another. (al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar chapter 11 section 1 p234)

Also Ibn Hajar quoted Abu al-Husayn al-Ajiri saying that the traditions of Holy Prophet Mohammed Mustafa (sawa) on the rising of Mahdi has been transmitted via numerous authorities and is more than the level of (being sufficient for) Mutawatir, describing that he is of his Ahle Bayt, and will fill the earth with justice, and that Isa (as) will come at the same time and he will assist Isa for killing al-Dajjal in the land of Palestine, and that he will lead this nation and Isa will pray behind him. (Abu al-Husayn al-Ajiri as quoted in al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar chapter 11 section 1 page 254)

So if Mahdi and Isa are to be the same person as some ignorants claim, then how can one prays behind himself?! Moreover this shows that Imam Mahdi and Isa (the Messiah) will come at the same time so that they could pray the morning prayer together in Jerusalem.

In fact, the equivalent word of “Messiah”in Arabic is “al-Maseeh”which means “Wiped Clean; Purified”. This word has been used in Quran as the title of Prophet Isa (as). As such, the “Messiah” is Prophet Isa (as) and not Imam Mahdi (as).

However, the word “Messiah” in English has another meaning, that is “savior”. As a result, there have been some English translators who used the word “Messiah” for Imam Mahdi (as) with the meaning of “Savior”which does NOT have anything to do with Arabic word “al-Maseeh”.

An objection. And it’s reply.

It is important to point out that there exists a fabricated tradition which is mainly used by Ahmadis / Qadianis to prove that Mahdi and Jesus are the same. The tradition states: “And no Mahdi except Isa.”

This tradition has been rated by al-Hakim as unknown and strange and he said there are discrepancy in its chain of authorities. al-Bayhaqi said Mohammed Ibn Khalid said this tradition is single (Mufrad). al-Nisa’i has mentioned that this tradition is unfamiliar and is denied, and that the memorizers of traditions confirm that the traditions which state that Mahdi is the descendants of Fatemah are authentic and reliable. (See al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah chapter 11 section 1 page 252 for details).

Prophet Isa is not the Imam of Muslims, and when he comes back, he will be the follower of the Imam of Muslims who is known as Imam Mahdi (as).

In Sahih al-Bukhari, it is narrated that the Prophet (sawa) said, What would be your situation if the Son of Mary (i.e. Isa) descends upon you and your Imam is among you? (Sahih al-Bukhari, Arabic-English, volume 4 tradition no. 658)

Read more about Imam Mahdi in the Ahle Sunnah

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