Who Was The Father of Imam Mahdi (as)?

The Shiah along with some scholars of the Ahle Sunnah believe that his father was Imam Hasan Askari (d. 260/874). Here are the names of 31 Sunni scholars who confirm this fact.

The overwhelming majority of prophetic traditions about Imam Mahdi state that the name of Imam Mahdi is the same as the name of the Prophet (i.e., Mohammed).

False tradition regarding the name of father of Imam Mahdi (as)

There is one Sunni report that has an additional phrase  – “his father’s name is also similar to that of the Prophet’s father (i.e., Abdullah).” This extra phrase does NOT exist in all other reports transmitted by the Shiah and the Sunni traditionalists who narrated the tradition. Moreover, the extra phrase in some Shiite traditions is in the form of “his nickname is the same as the Prophet’s nickname (i.e., Abul Qasim)” which is correct.

In fact, the Ahle Sunnah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said to Ali, “An child will be born to you whom I have gifted him with my name and my agnomen.”

References from books of Ahle Sunnah:

  • Sahih al-Tirmidhi, volume 5 page 137
  • Sunan Abu Dawud, volume 4 page 292
  • al-Mustadrak, by al-Hakim, volume 4 page 278 who said it is authentic based on the criteria of the two Shaykhs (i.e., al-Bukhari and Muslim)
  • Ma’arifat Ulum al-Hadith, by al-Hakim page 189
  • Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, volume 1, page 95
  • Fadha’il al-Sahaba, by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, volume 2 page 676 tradition no. 1155
  • al-Tabaqat, by Ibn Sa’d, volume 5 page 91

The single report which has the additional phrase (that his father’s name is the same as that of the Prophet’s father) has been probably fabricated by Abdullah Ibn Hasan (Muthanna – the second) Ibn Imam Hasan (as).

Abdullah (d. 145/762) had a son named Mohammed who called him “Nafs al-Zakiyyah” and the Mahdi. (See Ibn Taqtuqa, al-Fikr fi al-Adab al- Sultaniyyah, pages 165-166). Abdullah used all his power and wealth to support the revolt of his son. Abdullah concealed his son several times during the Umayyad period when there was still no danger for him. When he was asked why he did this, he said: “What an idea, their time has not come yet.”(Murooj al-Zahab, by al-Mas’udi, volume 6 pages  107-108). In the first letter that Mohammed wrote to the Abbasid Caliph, al-Mansoor, he wrote: “From Mohammed Ibn Abdillah, the Mahdi, …” (Tabari, volume 3 page 29; Ibn Kathir volume 10 page 85; Ibn Khaldoon volume 4 page 4).

Mohammed Ibn Abdillah started his claims at the end of the rule of the Umayyad caliphs. Mohammed became powerful and tried to gain the support of the last Umayyad Caliph who was Marwan Ibn Mohammed (132/750), but the Caliph did not pay attention to him.

Abul Abbas al-Falasti said to Marwan: “Mohammed Ibn Abdillah is striving to gain the power for he is claiming to be Mahdi”. Marwan replied: “What does he have to do with me? (the Mahdi) is not him, nor any of his father’s descendants. He will be the son of a slave woman.” (Maqatil al-Talibeen, by Abul Faraj al-Isbahani, published in Saudi Arabia, pages 247,258)

When Marwan said that Mahdi (as) is not one of his father’s descendants, he meant the descendants of Imam al-Hasan (as), for Mahdi (as) is the descendant of Imam al-Husayn (as) and is son of a slave woman (umm walad). Even Marwan was aware of these traditions because of which he did not pay attention to Mohammed Ibn Abdillah. This shows that the true versions of traditions from the Prophet were wide-spread at that time.

There is also a possibility that the fabrication of that extra phrase was done the Abbasid Caliph, Abdullah al-Mansoor, who called his son the Mahdi.

Muslim Ibn Qutaybah said, “Mansoor called me and said – Mohammed Ibn Abdillah rebelled and he called himself the Mahdi. By Allah he is not. I will tell you something else which I have told no one before, and will tell no one after you. By Allah my son is not the Mahdi either,… but I did so to make a good future for him.” (Maqatil al-Talibeen, by Abul Faraj al-Isbahani, published in Saudi Arabia, pages 246-247

Also the Caliph al-Mansoor fabricated the following “tradition.” Ibn Abbas (allegedly) said: “These four are from us Ahlul-Bayt: al-Saffah, al-Mundhir, al-Mansoor, and Mahdi.”(Recorded by al-Hakim).

It is clear that by fabricating the above reports, al-Mansoor was sorting the chain of Abbasid Caliphs and included his name and the name of his son, Mahdi, among Ahle Bayt! Ibn Abbas (ra) never uttered such words, and he himself is not among Ahle Bayt, let alone those Abbasid tyrants.

From all above it can be seen that the fabrication of the report which includes that extra phrase, could be reconciled on Mohammed Ibn Abdullah and/or the Abbasid Caliph, Mahdi. This is not the place to examine the tradition critically, but merely to point out the historical background of it.

As mentioned earlier, some Sunni scholars rejected that single report.

Those who wrote about birth of Imam Mahdi (as),
his long life and his occultation. Also about his father.

The following are the name of some Sunni scholars who wrote that Imam Mahdi has already been born, and is the only son of Imam Hasan Askari (as), and he is alive and in occultation, and will re-appear to establish the government of Justice. With this, they are in agreement with the Shiah. Their names are:

  1. Kamal al-Din Ibn Talha, in his book “Matalib al-Su’aal Fi Manaqib Aal al-Rasool”
  2. Sulayman Ibn Ibrahim al-Qundoozi, al-Hanafi (known as Khawajah Kalan), in his book “Yanabi’ al-Mawaddah”who has also established from important Sunni sources that love for Ahlul-Bayt is the only right path and the Islamic Way of Life.
  3. Abu Abdullah Mohammed Ibn Yusuf Ganji, al-Shafi’i, (d. 658 AH), the author of “Al-Bayan fi Akhbar Sahib al-Zaman”and “Kifayah al-Talib”.
  4. Shaykh Nooruddin Ali Ibn Mohammed Ibn Sabbagh, al-Maliki, from Mecca, in his book “al-Fusool al-Muhimmah”, pages 310, 319.
  5. Ahmad Ibn Ibrahim Ibn Hashim al-Baladhuri is one of the great scholars and traditionalists who also asserts the Imamat and occultation of the twelfth Imam in his book called “al-Hadith al-Mutasalsil”
  6. Ibn Arabi (Muhyiddin Mohammed Ibn Ali Ibn Mohammed al-Arabi), al-Hanbali, in his book “Al-Futuhat al-Makkia”(Chapter 366) discusses a detailed account of the birth of Mahdi, son of Imam Askari (as), and of his re-appearance before the day of resurrection.
  7. Ibn Khashab (Abu Mohammed Abdullah Ibn Ahmad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Khashab), has given a detailed account of the twelfth Imam in his biographical book called “Tawarikh Mawaleed al-A’imma wa Wafiyatihim”
  8. Shaykh Abdullah Sha’rani (d. 905 AH), the celebrated Sufi, in his work “Yaqaqeet”, Chapter 66, deals with the birth and the occultation of the twelfth Imam. Also He extensively talks about Imam Mahdi (as) in his other book “Aqa’id al-Akabir”.
  9. Shaykh Hasan Iraqi who accepts the twelfth Imam, praises Sharani as a pious and a learned ascetic, and narrates the story of Sharani’s meeting with the twelfth Imam.
  10. Sayyed Ali, known as Khawas, the teacher of Sha’rani, also a believer of the twelfth Imam, confirms what Shaykh Hasan asserted about the meeting of Sha’rani with the twelfth Imam.
  11. Nooruddin Abdul Rahman Ibn Ahmad, known as Mulla Jami, in his book Shawahid al-Nubuwwah (The Evidence of Prophethood of Mohammed) gives an account of the birth of the twelfth Imam and his statement is in complete agreement with the Shiah records.
  12. Mohammed Ibn Mahmood al-Bukhari, al-Hanafi, known as Khawaja Parsa in his book “Fasl al-Khitab” gives the account of the birth, occultation, and re-appearance of the twelfth Imam.
  13. Shaykh Abdul Haq Dehlawi, in his book “Jazb e Qulub”, narrates the statements of Hakima, the daughter of the ninth Imam who was asked by the eleventh Imam, Imam Hasan Askari, to stay with Narjis, mother of the last Imam during the night at the end of which she gave birth to her son.
  14. Sayyed Jamaluddin Husayni Muhaddith who is the author of the celebrated book “Rawdhat al-Ahbab”. According to Dayar Bakri, Mulla Ali Qari, Abdul Haqq Dehlawi, “Rawdhat al-Ahbab”is one of the reliable sources of reference. The author mentions the twelfth Imam in the most reverential terms. He states – The auspicious birth of Imam Mahdi took place on the 15th of Sha’ban in the year of 225 AH at Samarra. He has described the Imam in the following words:
    • Mahdi al-Muntadhar (the expected Mahdi)
    • al-Khalaf al-Salih (the righteous successor)
    • Sahib al-Zaman (the master of the time)
  15. Al-Arif Abdul Rahman Sufi, in his works “Mir’at al-Asrar”(The Mirror of Mysteries) gives a detailed account of the birth, and the occultation of the twelfth Imam.
  16. Ali Akbar, son of Asadullah Maududi, in his book Mukashifaat (Visions), which is a commentary on “Nafahat al-Uns”by Abdurrahman Jami, asserts the existence of the Mahdi as being the pole of guidance after his father Imam Hasan Askari (as), who was also the pole of guidance and Imamat.
  17. Malik al-Ulama Dulatabadi who is a well known scholar, in his work “Hidayat al-Saada”has confirmed the Imamat and the occultation of Mahdi.
  18. Nasr Ibn Ali Jahzami Nasri, one of the most reliable reporters of traditions whom Khateeb al-Baghdadi has praised him in his works on history, and Yusuf Ganji al-Shafi’i, in his book Manaqib has introduced Nasr as one of the masters of al-Bukhari and Muslim. Nasr asserts the existence of Qaem Aale Mohammed (Imam Mahdi (as)), the one among the Imams of the House of the Prophet (sawa) whose duty is to establish Islam throughout the world.
  19. Mulla Ali Qari, one of the greatest traditionalists, in his famous book, “Mirqat”, talks about Imam Mahdi after mentioning the celebrated statement of the Holy Prophet (sawa) that after him there would be twelve successors (Caliphs). Mulla Ali states whether they are in power or not makes no difference as they are the rightful Imams.
  20. Qazi Jawad Sibti was a Christian but later became a Muslim. He wrote “Baraheen Sibtiyya”(Proofs forwarded by Sibti), which is a refutation of the Christian writers. He narrates the Prophecy from Ashaya (Joshua) concerning the coming of a man from the chosen branch of the chosen lineage of Adam who would be the seat of the spirit. In other words, he will be filled with the spirit of wisdom, sympathy, justice and knowledge and he will be God fearing. God will bestow on him a sound and glorying reason and make him firm.

His judgment would be based on hearing an external evidence, but he will have a guided insight about everything and judge people according to what they really are in their hearts. He further states that his method of judgment is peculiar to him and has not been adopted by any prophet or Vice-regent of God. The Muslims are unanimous that the Mahdi of this description shall be descendant of Fatimah, daughter of the holy Prophet (sawa). Particularly the view of the Shiah seems to be real interpretation of this real prophecy.

  1. Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi, al-Hanafi, (Shams al-Din Abul Mudhaffar Yusuf), the author of “Tathkirat al-Khawas”, pages 325-328 gives the names of 22 people believed by Muslims to have lived various ages from 3,000 down to 300 years! He also writes about the twelfth Imam as follows
    • He (Mahdi) is Mohammed Ibn al-Hasan Ibn Ali Ibn Mohammed Ibn Ali Ibn Musa al-Ridha
    • His title is Abu Abdillah and Abul Qasim
    • He is the last successor of the Prophet (sawa)
    • He is the Last Imam of the House
    • He is the authoritative proof of God (al-Hujjah)
    • He is the master of time (Sahib al-Zaman)
    • and he is the expected one (al-Muntadhar)
  2. Abu Bakr Ahmad Ibn Hasan al-Bayhaqi, the famous Shafi’i jurist, has confirmed the birth of the son of Imam Askari (as) and his being as the expected Mahdi.
  3. Shaykh Sadruddin, known as Hamavi, who has written a book about the Last Imam of the House of the Prophet (sawa). He quotes a tradition of the Holy Prophet (sawa) as follows – Holy Prophet (sawa) said, “The learned one among my followers are in the rank of the Prophets from among the Children of Israel”, also referring to the twelve Naqeeb (chiefs)of the Children of Israel (see Qur’an 5:12). But the last Wali, who is the last of the successors of the Prophet (sawa) and who is the Twelfth Wali in the chain of Awliya, is Mahdi, “Sahib al-Zaman”, his appellation and title should not be used for any one else.
  4. Shaykh Ahmad Jami, (as quoted by Qundoozi, author of “Yanabi al- Mawaddah”, and Qadhi Noorullah author of “Majalis al-Mu’mineen”) has composed the following poem:

My heart is fine and bright with the love of Haydar
Next to Haydar, al-Hasan is our Guide and Leader.
The dust beneath the shoes of al-Husayn, is the eyeliner (surmah) for my eyes.
al-Abideen, the ornament of all devotees, is like a crown on my head.
al-Baqir is the light of both my eyes
The religion of Ja’far is true and the path of Musa is right.
O, loyal, ones: listen to me praising the King of Kings (Imam Reza), who is buried in Khurasan.
A particle from the dust of his tomb is the cure of all pain
Leader of men of faith is al-Taqi, O dear Muslims
If you love al-Naqi in preference to all other people, you have done the thing which is proper and right.
al-Askari is the light of the eyes of both Adam and the world.
Where can be found, in the world, such a chief in command like Mahdi?

  1. Shaykh Amir Ibn Basri has composed an eulogy called Qasidah Tayya. The composition contains theosophical lore, maxims, mystical points, and matter of etiquette. Here are some lines quoted:

O Imam Mahdi! How long will You be hidden?
Oblige us, O our father, with your return!
We feel sad the waiting time is prolonged.
For the sake of Thy Lord, bless us with your audience.
O the pole of being! Hasten, O our beloved!
Return, so that we may enjoy the sight.
Surely, it is a great a pleasure
for a lover to meet his beloved after a long absence.

  1. Husayn Ibn Hamdan al-Husayni, in his book “al-Hidaya”mentions the twelfth Imam, the master of time, as the son of the eleventh Imam Hasan Askari (as).
  2. The well known biographer, Ibn Khallakan in his book “Wafayat al-A’ayan”, has given a brief account of the birth of the Imam.
  3. Ibn al-Azraq, as quoted by Ibn Khallakan, asserts the existence of the twelfth Imam.
  4. Ibn al-Wardi the historian, in his work asserts the birth of the son of Imam Askari (as) in 255 AH.
  5. Sayyed Mumin Shablanji in his work “Noor al-Absar”gives the genealogy of Imam Mohammed Mahdi (as), the twelfth Imam.

After these and many more, those who deny his birth and his present life have no proof against those who have accepted this fact, while they still recognize the correctness of traditions about Imam Mahdi. The Messenger of Allah (sawa) said  – He who dies not knowing the Imam of his era, has died the death of al-Jahiliyya (Days of Ignorance; the era before Islam).

Read more about Imam Mahdi (as)


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