Traditions from Aimmah (as) prophesied that Imam Mahdi (as) will enjoy a long life, similar to Hazrat Nuh (as). They explained why some prophets were granted a long life only so that people should not harbour a doubt regarding the longevity of Imam Mahdi (as).Ayatullah Lutfullah Safi Gulpaygani has narrated in his book Muntakhabul Asar that Imam Hasan Askari (as) said, “Certainly my son, after me is the Qaem and he is the one who will reappear as per the tradition (Sunnah) of Prophets (the Sunnah of the Prophets will be revived through him) i.e. longevity and occultation. (Muntakhabul Asar, part 2, chapter 30, page 274, tradition 1)
This tradition is pointing towards a generic concept that Imam Mahdi (as) possesses similarities with a few divine messengers. In this tradition, similarities like long life and occultation are mentioned. Our topic is not occultation hence we shall discuss only those messengers who had long lives.
The traditions narrated below are about those divine messengers whose had unusually long lives. Apart from traditions, books of history have also narrated incidents of their long life.
The long life of Hazrat Idrees (as)
He was the great grandfather of Prophet Nuh (as). His name was Akhnookh. Allah raised him to a lofty place and it is said, he was ascended to the fourth sky and as per some traditions to the sixth sky. In Majmaul Bayan, it is narrated from Mujahid that Hazrat Idrees (as) was raised to the skies just like Hazrat Isa (as) was ascended to the sky while he was alive and not dead.
Imam Sadiq (as) mentioned in the tafseer in the verse of Surah Maryam “And we raised to lofty position” the journey of Hazrat Idrees (as) to the skies and meeting the angel of death and narrated the incident of capturing his soul between the fourth and the fifth sky. (Tafseer al-Qummi by Ali ibn Ibrahim Qummi (exp. 304 or 306 AH) volume 2, page 51)
Note: Allah made Hazrat Idrees (as) traverse such long distances between the skies and kept him alive for such a long duration. However, in one of the traditions of Ibn Abbas, it is mentioned that Hazrat Idrees (as) is alive in Paradise. (Mikyalul Makarim, volume 1, chapter of Resemblance to Idrees)
The conclusion is that long life is possible if Allah wishes it for a servant.
The long life of Hazrat Khizr (as)
Allah the Almighty granted Hazrat Khizr (as) a very long life and he is still alive. This belief is common between Shias and Sunnis and many traditions express it. He is still alive today so that the long life of Imam Mahdi (as) can be proven through his long life.
Imam Sadiq (as) said, “Allah granted long life to his noble servant Hazrat Khizr (as), not because he was a Prophet or because a book had to be revealed unto him or a shariat is initiated which overrules another shariat or to grant him the position of Imamat or make his leadership obligatory on His servants and make his obedience mandatory on them. But Allah had it in His knowledge that Imam Qaem (as) will have a long life during his occultation to the extent that His servants will not believe in his long age and will deny it. Hence, Allah – Blessed and High be He – prolonged the life of the righteous servant (Hazrat Khizr (as)) without any (apparent) cause, except that it be a basis for proving the age of Qaem (as) so that the arguments of the deniers may be invalidated through this and that people may not have any argument against Allah.” (Mikyalul Makarim, volume 1, chapter of Resemblance to Hazrat Khizr, narrated from Kamaluddin)
In another tradition, it is mentioned from Imam Reza (as) that, “Khizr (as) drank the elixir of life and will remain alive till the Day of Judgment. He comes to us regularly and salutes us. His voice can be heard but he cannot be seen and whoever mentions him then he makes himself present in that gathering and whoever amongst you remembers him he sends his greetings to them. He is present for Hajj every year and performs all the rituals of Hajj. He stays in Arafat and prays for the fulfilment of the supplications of the believers. Allah will substitute the loneliness and fear of our Qaem (as) into security and will ward off his loneliness.” (Kamaluddin, volume 2, chapter of Narrations from Khizr, tradition 4)
Those who have been for Hajj and those who will go for Hajj, Inshallah, should remember that Imam Mahdi (as) is present every year for Hajj. He is present in Makkah, Mina, Arafaat, Mash’ar, Muzdalefah, Safa, Marwah, at the place of sacrifice, during circumambulation and Saee. In short, he is present at every instance. Hence, it is necessary for all pilgrims that they follow the true patron of Hajj, Imam Mahdi (as), pray for him and pray to Allah for his early reappearance. Hazrat Khizr (as) prays for the fulfilment of his invocation.
The long life of Hazrat Ilyas (as)
Hazrat Ilyas (as) is alive even today and is present in the rituals of Hajj every year. Allamah Majlisi (ar) in his invaluable book ‘Hayatul Quloob’ brings three traditions that clearly prove that Hazrat Ilyas (as) has been granted a long life.
One tradition is narrated by Imam Mohammad Taqi (as) who has narrated from Imam Sadiq (as) who in turn narrates this incident from his father Imam Baqir (as) that he and Imam Sadiq (as) have met Prophet Ilyas (as) in a house near the mount of Safa. In this tradition, there is a discussion between Imam Baqir (as) and Hazrat Ilyas (as) regarding the knowledge of Allah, knowledge of Messengers and knowledge of successors. At the end of the tradition, Imam Baqir (as) said to Hazrat Ilyas (as), “We too (like the Holy Prophet (sawa)) do not manifest our knowledge as we know that people will not obey us and we are not permitted from the side of Allah to fight against them. I wish that you see that era when the Mahdi of the nation reappears, angels annihilate the progeny of Dawood, punish the past disbelievers in the air and crush the mouth and teeth of others who think like them. He (Ilyas) drew his sword and said that this sword is from those swords (which will be used against those disbelievers) and I am from his (as) helpers.” (Hayatul Quloob, Urdu, volume 1, pages 564-565, chapter 16 under the tradition of Imam Muhammad Taqi (as))
Similarly, Allamah Majlisi (ar) has mentioned in the Tafseer of Imam Hasan Askari (as) that the Holy Prophet (sawa) mentioned to Zaid Ibn Arqam: Khizr (as) and Ilyas (as) meet each other in every Hajj. (Hayatul Quloob, Urdu, volume 1, page 566)
It is evident from both these traditions that Hazrat Ilyas (as) is not only alive but he is awaiting the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as) and will fight the enemies of Allah.
The long life of Hazrat Isa (as)
All Muslims believe in the long life of Hazrat Isa (as) and that he (as) will descend from the sky after the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (as) and recite prayers behind him. The Jews and the Christians believe that Hazrat Isa (as) has been killed but Allah has belied them and declared, “He was neither killed nor crucified but it appeared to them so (like Isa).” (Surah Nisa, verse 157)
Today, the age of Hazrat Isa (as) is more than 2,000 years.
The long life of Hazrat Adam (as)
Shaykh Sudooq (ar) in his book Kamaluddin has narrated from Imam Sajjad (as) that, “In our Qaem (as), there are similarities of messengers …. As for the similarity with Hazrat Adam (as) and Hazrat Nuh (as), it is his long life.” (Kamaluddin, volume 1, chapter 31, tradition 3)
Allamah Majlisi (ar) has narrated many traditions under the context of the death, life, place of burial of Hazrat Adam (as) and advices to his son Shees (Hebatullah). It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (as) that Holy Prophet (sawa) said that the holy life of Hazrat Adam (as) was 929 years. (Hayatul Quloob, Urdu, volume 1, pages 146-147)
Imam Sadiq (as) said, “When Hazrat Nuh (as) was in the ark, Allah ordered him to circumambulate the Holy Kaabah seven times. When he completed the circumambulation, he alighted from the Ark. At the time, the water had reached up to his thighs. There, a coffin was found that had bones of Hazrat Adam (as) and it was kept in the ark. The Ark circled the Kaabah again and departed till it reached Kufa where Allah ordered the earth to soak in all the water just like how it began from the Mosque (of Kufa). Then Hazrat Nuh (as) was buried in this coffin in Najaf.” (Hayatul Quloob, Urdu, volume 1, page 146. The difference between Hazrat Adam and Hazrat Nuh was 1,500 years)
Hazrat Adam’s (as) age was more than 900 years and Janab Hawwa was also around the same age.
The long life of Hazrat Shees (as)
Imam Hasan (as) said: The first person to be raised as a Prophet after Hazrat Adam (as) was Shees (as) and he lived for 1,000 years. (Hayatul Quloob, Urdu, volume 1, page 147)
Allamah Majlisi (ar) narrates that many scholars of history have narrated that Shees (as) was born when Hazrat Adam (as) was 235 years old and his (Shees’) age was 912 years. (Hayatul Quloob, Urdu, volume 1, page 147)
The long life of Prophet Nuh (as)
Prophet Nuh (as) is called as Shaykh al-Ambiya (Oldest of the Prophets). It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (as) and Imam Hadi (as) that the age of Hazrat Nuh (as) was 2,500 years. The Holy Quran has mentioned the period of propagation and guidance of Nuh (as) as 950 years. “And certainly We sent Nuh to his people, so he remained among them a thousand years save fifty years. And the deluge overtook them, while they were unjust.” (Surah Ankaboot, verse 14)
The verse after this mentions “So We delivered him and the inmates of the Ark”
It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (as), “Nuh (as) lived for 2,500 years – he was raised a Prophet 850 years before the deluge, stayed among his people for 950 years, took 200 years to build the ark and survived 500 years after the deluge. When the water dried up, he laid the foundation of cities and settled his children there.
After the passage of 2,500 years, the angel of death came to him while he was sitting under the sun. He said: Peace be upon you. Nuh (as) replied to the salutation and asked ‘O Angel of Death! Why have you come?’ He said to take your soul. He (as) asked, “Can you permit me that I go from sunlight into shade?’ He granted permission and Nuh (as) came from the light to the shade and said ‘O Angel of Death! My (long) life in this world was like coming from sunlight to the shade (i.e. it has passed so fast). Now act upon whatever you have been commanded. The Angel of Death took away his soul.” (Hayatul Quloob,Urdu, volume 1, page 147)
The above mentioned verse of Holy Quran and the tradition prove that Hazrat Nuh (as) lived for 2,500 years.
In the book of Kamaluddin we find the tradition that Sayyid bin Muhammad Himyari Imam Sadiq (as), “O son of Allah’s Messenger, traditions from your forefathers have reached us regarding occultation and its authenticity, please tell us something more about it. He said: Occultation will happen for my sixth descendant and he is the twelfth of the Imams of guidance after the Holy Prophet (sawa), the first of whom is Ali Ibne Abi Talib and the last is the one who would rise with the truth (Qaem bil Haqq), the Remnant of Allah (Baqiyatullah) on the earth and the Master of the Age. By Allah, even if he remains in occultation as long as Nuh lived among his people, Allah will not end the world till he reappears. And he would fill up the earth with justice and equity just as it would be fraught with injustice and oppression.” (Kamaluddin chapter 33, tradition 23)
The above traditions are sufficient to establish that life and death are solely in the hands of Allah (swt). He can grant life to whomsoever He pleases, to the extent He pleases and there is none to oppose Him on that. Our lack of intellect cannot be an excuse to reject this power of Allah. Allah has chosen to grant a long life to Hazrat Mahdi (as) and as per traditions, he granted a long life to Hazrat Khizr (as) just to offer a fitting reply to skeptics.
It is strange that people are willing to easily accept the long life of Shaitaan who is not even an angel. He is a Jinn and as mortal as human beings. Yet they can accept that Allah has granted him a long life. If Allah can grant a long life to Shaitaan who misguides and deceives people from the right path, it is only natural that Allah can and will grant a long life to His proof who will guide and direct people to the right path.
Read more about the long life of Imam Mahdi (as)
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- Is Long Life of Imam Mahdi (as) Established in Quran?
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- What Aimmah (as) Said About Long Life of Imam Mahdi (as)
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- Does Science Endorse the Concept of a Long Life?
- Longevity: Al Imam Al Mahdi by Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini