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Promised Messiah [The Second Coming of
Jesus] by Maulana Muhammad Ali
> Chapter VIII : The Mahdi
Books Section > The Promised Messiah [The Second Coming of Jesus] by Maulana Muhammad Ali Sahib > Chapter VIII : The Mahdi
VIII : The Mahdi:
In spite of the
weaknesses and discrepancies of the reports about the
Mahdi their collective evidence cannot be
Common factors in
the reports about the Mahdi:
Now the common factors in these reports are reduced to this, that a mahdi would appear in this ummah in the later ages having a strong resemblance with the Holy Prophet and filling the earth with equity and justice. But these reports differ as to which family he would belong. He might be from me (i.e., the Holy Prophet), or from the people of his house, or from the seed of Hasan and Husain, or of Ibn `Abbas and it has also been mentioned that he might be only a person from the nation of Muhammad. The reports of his being from the seed of Hasan, Husain or `Abbas, definitely contradict one another. Therefore, this part of the reports has to be given up, but the reports which contain expressions such as from me, from the people of my house, from my ummah, can easily be reconciled, for they may imply his spiritual resemblance to the Holy Prophet, as he is reported to have said about Salman of
"Salman is from the people of my house." 17
Similar expressions have been used as well for other persons. Thus a member of this ummah having a strong resemblance to the Holy Prophet can be regarded as from him or from the people of his house. The common factor in these reports, therefore, is that the Mahdi will be a person belonging to the nation of Muhammad. This view is supported by the report in Ibn Majah where only `Isa has been called Mahdi.
Another important point which is clear from these reports is about the Divine appointment (bi`that) of the Mahdi. Now the word appointment for human beings (in Islamic terminology) is used either for prophets or for mujaddids. But as prophethood has come to an end with the Holy Prophet, therefore the Mahdi can be raised in this nation only as a mujaddid. As to the reports in which his equity and justice have been mentioned, it must be borne in mind that one type of law and order is the responsibility of the government of the day and the other type of justice is connected with the appointed ones (mamurin) of God whether they are in possession of temporal power or not. What type of justice has been referred to in these reports will be discussed later. Oppression and violence which have been particularly mentioned here are the same which have been spread by the followers of the Religion of the Cross. On the one hand, they have raised a humble servant of God to the pedestal of Divinity as the Quran says: The heaven may almost be rent thereat, and the earth cleave asunder, and the mountains fall down into pieces, that they ascribe a son to the Beneficent! 18 and, on the other, they have inflicted sufferings on their fellow beings by their peculiar philosophy that it is only the white people who have the right to rule over other nations, the latter being created for the service of the whites.
Mahdi will spread Islam by the
When we look into the ahadith we find only the words yamlik al-`Arab, that is, he will be the ruler of Arabia, and "for the spread of equity and justice on earth" he has also been mentioned in these reports. The words yamlik al-`Arab which confine his territory to Arabia are either an interpolation of a reporter or are meant for another person whose kingdom will be limited to Arabia. 20 Reference to his kingdom on one side and the abundance of wealth on the another may have led people to believe that the Mahdi would propagate Islam with force. This view is supported by a statement in Iqtarab al-Sa`ah which says that: "Wars will be waged at his hand, treasures will be dug out, city after city will be conquered from East to West." 21 It seems that on account of such conjectures the wrong conception of a warrior Mahdi gradually got its way among Muslims. Some reports might have also been fabricated in this connection. But the Sihah Sittah (six authentic collections of Hadith), and the Musnad of Ahmad, which refer to the benevolence of the Mahdi do not mention any report to show that the Mahdi will wage wars or conquer the whole world or convert unbelievers to Islam at the point of the sword. How was it possible, when the coming of such a Mahdi was decidedly against the clear verdict of the Quran that: "There is no compulsion in religion." 22 How indeed could such a mahdi come who would act against this injunction and wield the sword to convert people to Islam?
conception was removed by the Mahdi
There have been, of course, several other claimants to mahdihood, but every one of them was interested in his own person and claim and cared nothing about making Islam free from false objections. Every one picked up certain words and expressions from the reports and tried to apply them to himself but paid no attention to the removal of this false belief that Islam was propagated by the sword. There had been some pious persons from among these claimants as well and they might have identified their own temporal victory with the victory of Islam, but the extermination of this outlandish conception of a warrior mahdi who would wield the sword for the spread of Islam was destined to take place at the hands of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and thus was removed a great obstacle which stood in the way of the progress of Islam. His claim to being the Mahdi showed to the world that the secret and glory of Islam was correlated with such a claim. Not one, but let hundreds of such claimants appear for the glory and success of Islam, and Muslims should welcome them with open arms. To obstruct their cause, because of suspicions and misunderstandings, is to obstruct the cause of Islam and the Muslim nation. Hazrat Ahmad was no doubt a claimant to mahdihood but he made his claim a source of the onward march of Islam. The prophecy relating to the Mahdi has been fulfilled today with such clarity that the fundamental fact behind it has gradually been accepted by all Muslims. The conception that Islam was, or will be, thrust upon non-Muslims with the sword is losing its hold on their minds. Islam has never stood in need of violence for its progress, and never shall a time come when such a course will be applied for its propagation. Even non-Muslims have also started to realise that the advancement of Islam was simply due to its spiritual force and not to the use of any sword. And it is indeed a fact that the real success of Islam was brought about not by a powerful emperor, but its conquests were mainly due to its dynamic spiritual force. The following passage by an American scholar confirms this view:
"The other great religions won their way slowly, by painful struggle, and finally triumphed with the aid of powerful monarchs converted to the new faith. Christianity had its Constantine, Buddhism its Asoka, Zoroastrianism its Cyrus, each lending to his chosen cult the mighty force of secular authority. Not so with Islam. Arising in a desert land sparsely inhabited by a nomad race, previously undistinguished in human annals, Islam sallied forth on its great adventure with the slenderest human backing and against the heaviest material odds." 25
In short, the real Mahdi of Islam is he who has clarified the real meaning of mahdihood and has shown to the world that the Mahdi of Islam is a spiritual mahdi and that Islam's success depends on its intrinsic spiritual values and not on outward force.
Mahdi are one:
This is not the only hadith which shows that the Messiah and the Mahdi are one, for if we carefully study other reports, they also point towards the same conclusion. Evidently there cannot be two amirs (leaders) or khalifahs at one and the same time. Hazrat Abu Bakr immediately after the death of the Holy Prophet gave a reply to the Ansars (Helpers) who said: "One leader from us and one from you," 27 that this was not possible and there could not be two leaders at the same time. If this report is true, how could there be two leaders, that is, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, simultaneously? If it is said that one will be an assistant to the other then we do not find that mentioned in the reports. Both the Messiah and the Mahdi have been called imams. In Al-Bukhari and Al-Muslim: imamu-kum minkum and amma-kum minkum occur for the Promised Messiah who has also been called arbiter and judge. Hakam and imam are identical. In the Musnad of Ahmad, he has been clearly referred to as "arbiter, judge and imam." 28 About the Mahdi, it is a wide-spread belief that he will be an imam and some think that he will be a king also. In this case, the Messiah must be his wazir (minister, assistant). On the other hand, it is also acknowledged that the Messiah will be superior to the Mahdi as Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan quotes in his book, a saying by Imam Shaukani: "There is no doubt that Jesus is superior to the Mahdi." 29
At any rate there can be only one imam at a time and when Jesus and the Mahdi are both called imam then it necessarily follows that Jesus and the Mahdi are also one.
The third argument in favour of this view is that the Promised Messiah has also been called mahdi in the reports. Accordingly, there is a hadith from Abu Hurairah to the effect that: "Whoever lives from among you shall meet Jesus, son of Mary, who is imam, mahdi, arbiter and judge." 30 Besides all this, if we look deep into the matter we observe many other similarities showing that these are only two different names of one person. The time of their advent is the same, they shall have the same office, the same work, and the same complexion, so how can they be two separate persons? That the time of their appearance is the same is acknowledged by all. About their office, I have discussed above that both of them have been called imam, amir, khalifah and mahdi. Their work and duties are also the same. The making of Islam dominant over other religions is the work of the Messiah and the same has been assigned to the Mahdi as well, so much so that the breaking of the Cross and killing the swine, thought to be the special duties of the Messiah, have also been attributed to the Mahdi, as has been mentioned in Hujaj al-Kiramah:
"The religion of Islam in his time will be established as it had been in the age of grace of the Prophet Muhammad. He will be a ruler over all the world and shall break the Cross and kill the swine. All these signs have been briefly discussed by Ibn Hajar in connection with the coming of the Mahdi." 31
The spreading of peace and justice has also been assigned to both. It is frequently reported about the Mahdi that he will fill the earth with justice and the Messiah has also been called arbiter and judge. Their complexion is also the same. The coming Messiah is of wheatish colour, and a quotation to that effect has been given before. 32 The Mahdi is of the same complexion as is found in a report by Na`im ibn Hammad that: "He will be of wheatish complexion from among the people (of the land)." 33
A prophecy becomes
a great miracle after its fulfilment:
The significance of
the two names:
As I have been given light for the Christian People,
Further, because he was commissioned to strengthen the inner solidarity of Islam, to save Muslims from going to immoderate extremes, to cure them of the habit of takfir (denunciation of Muslims as heretics), and to place before them the sublime object of the preaching of Islam, which was in fact the object of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, therefore, the name Mahdi was also given to the mujaddid of this age. The only reality behind all this is that the perfect mujaddid of the fourteenth century was like the full moon that was going to shine on the world. For shedding the light of Islam in the Christian world he was called the Messiah or Son of Mary, and for illuminating the hearts of Muslims with the light of Islam he was called the Mahdi. That is why the Holy Prophet declared: "He has been given my name." 38 The point that the Mahdi is superior to Jesus, though Jesus was a prophet of God, only means that, as the Mahdi, he will manifest the truth of Muhammad and, as the Messiah, the truth of Jesus, the former being superior to the latter; it is because of this that the Mahdi is superior to Jesus.
about the Mahdi:
"Men of Divine gnosis will enter into fealty with the Mahdi by God's guidance and Divine visions. Holy people will be with him to strengthen his message and to support him ... There will be nine persons in the footsteps of the Companions (of the Prophet); they will prove true their covenant which they made with Allah. They will all be non-Arabs (`ajami) and none will be an Arab from among them." 41
If the companions and supporters of the Mahdi are non-Arabs, it clearly shows that the place of his advent is not Makkah, but some other country outside Arabia, and it has just been stated that his companions would be coming from the East. Undoubtedly, in view of this, the place of the Mahdi's advent should also be an Eastern country as has been mentioned in one of the reports: "The Mahdi will appear in a village, the name of which will be Kadi`ah." 42 This name is so identical with Qadian (or Kadi as Qadian was formerly known) that, if read with the reports of the general signs of the Mahdi, it becomes clear that such reports are applicable only to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian.
Some of the signs
are only in the form of metaphors in the prophecy about the
La hawla wa la quwwata kanzum mim kunuzil jannah (there is no power except His power, is a treasure from among the treasures of paradise. 48
Now this is not a treasure of gold and silver but only, as it is stated in Al-Nihayah, ajrun muddakhar or the reward which has been stored.49 Again, it has been mentioned in some of the reports that the Mahdi would also dig out treasures from under the Ka'bah. Now gold and silver are not buried under this holy place. On the other hand, they refer to the riches of knowledge and wisdom which were manifested by the Prophet Muhammad and have been concealed from the eyes of the world with the lapse of time. The real treasure is, in fact, the wisdom and Divine gnosis which were lost in the Age of Corruption and in which age only letter and form-worship were left with the Muslims. Thus, whoever restores the lost glory of wisdom, it is he who really digs out treasures and distributes them among the people. The istikhraj kunuz (i.e., the digging out of treasures from the earth) therefore, in the case of the Mahdi does not mean the digging of gold and silver, but is only a metaphorical expression which implies the imparting of knowledge and wisdom by the Mahdi to his people, which is indeed the task of all God-sent reformers. Their kingdom is also a spiritual one, and, if God wills, He may favour them with temporal power as well. But their actual kingdom is always spiritual. Now, if a person insists on the literal meanings of these reports, it will be impossible for him to accept all the reports which are so contradictory in their details that even those who generally believe in them also entertain doubts as to their literal fulfilment. The contradictions in them are so great that either the whole lot has to be rejected under the principle that when two things contradict, they erase each other, or only their general and collective testimony should be accepted. A part of them should be interpreted metaphorically and a part, of course, has to be left aside. When we follow this principle, these reports invariably apply to Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement. These two points - that the Mahdi will not spread Islam with the sword and that he and the Messiah are one - have made it definitely clear that Hazrat Ahmad is indeed the Promised Mahdi. It does not make any difference if a ruler Mahdi may also appear at some future time, but, just for the sake of mere possibility, it is not right to reject the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad which have been fulfilled.
2 Al-Shaikh Jalal al-Din Sayuti : Tarikh al-Khulafa (Sarkari Press, Lahore 1870 CE), Ch. `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz, p. 234.
3 Sunan Abu Dawud: kitab al-Malahim (Mujtabai Press, Delhi, 1318 A.H.) vol. 2, Dhikr al-Mahdi, p. 239.
4 Ibid., p. 240.
5 Sunan Abu Dawud, p. 241.
6 Imam Abu `Abd Allah Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, vol. 1, p. 84.
7 Ibid., p. 99.
8 Ibid., p. 376.
9 Ibid., vol. 3, p. 26.
10 Ibid., p. 37.
11 Ibid., p. 21.
12 Hujaj al-Kiramah, p. 355.
13 Ibid., p. 356.
14 Ibid., p. 355.
15 Kanz al-Ummal (Da'irat al-Mu`arif al-Nizamiyyah Press, Hyderabad, 1314, A.H) vol. 7, p. 188; Hujaj al-Kiramah, p. 356.
16 Abu `Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Yazid ibn Majah Qazwini, Sunan Ibn Majah, ch. al-Sharat al-Sa'ah, p. 302.
17 Zurqani, vol. 2, p. 126.
18 The Quran, 19 : 90-91.
19 Nawab Sayyid Nur al-Hasan Khan, Iqtarab al-Sa`ah (Mufid `Am Press, Agra, India, 1301 A.H.), p. 94.
20 Apparently these words seem to apply to `Abd Allah ibn Zubair who did not enter into bai`at of Yazid. When Yazid died in 64 A.H. `Abd Allah ibn Zubair was elected as the Khalifah. The people of Hijaz, Yemen and Iraq also submitted to his rule. Mu`awiyah ibn Yazid's rule was limited to Egypt and Syria, but after his death, the people of these countries also took the bai`at of Zubair, but soon after they revolted and separated themselves from him. Thus Zubair's kingdom remained confined to Arabia. In 73 A.H. during the reign of `Abd al-Malik, Zubair was attacked by Hajjaj and was martyred by him. Thus his reign was spread over a period of nine years. Reports concerning the Mahdi mention seven or nine years of his rule. These words, therefore, may refer to `Abd Allah ibn Zubair. If it is kept in view that these ahadith have been greatly tampered with, the part mentioning the period of Mahdi's kingdom for seven or nine years can be applied to him as well.
21 Nawab Sayyid Nur al-Hasan Khan, Iqtarab al-Sa`ah, p. 64.
22 The Quran, 2 : 256.
24 Hujaj al-Kiramah, p. 386.
25 Lothorp Stoddard, The New World of Islam, p. 1.
26 Sunan Ibn Majah (Matba` Nizamiyyah, Delhi.) 1905 CE, ch. Al-Sharat al-Sa`ah, p. 302.
27 Al-Bukhari, kitab Fadail Ashab al-Nabi, ch. Manaqib Abu Bakr.
28 Imam Abu `Abd Allah Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, vol. 2, p. 394 and p. 272.
29 Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan, Hujaj al-Kiramah, (Shah Jahan Press, Bhopal), p. 385.
30 Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, vol. 2, p. 411.
31 Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan, Hujaj al-Kiramah, p. 363.
32 Kanz al-`Ummal, vol. 6, p. 126.
33 Kanz al-`Ummal, vol. 7, p. 262.
34 Hadith al-Ghashiyyah, p. 343.
36 Nawab Nur al-Hasan Khan, Iqtarab al-Sa`ah, p. 147.
37 Sunan Abu Dawud, kitab al-Fitan, vol. 2, p. 233.
38 Ibid., kitab al-Malahim , vol. 2, p. 239.
39 Hujaj al-Kiramah, p. 355 ; Najm al-Thaqib, vol. 1, p. 51.
40 Sunan Ibn Majah, ch. Khuruj al-Mahdi, p. 310.
41 Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan, Hujaj al-Kiramah.
42 Jawahir al-Asrar, p. 55. The original name of Qadian was Islam Pur Qadi Majjhi which was gradually shortened to Qadi, being generally pronounced as Kadi. If it is kept in view that the form of foreign words in the Arabic language undergoes a little change, for instance, London (Landan) is altered into Landarah, the change of Kadi into Kadi`ah is easy to understand.
43 The Quran, 42 : 51.
44 Abu `Isa Muhammad ibn `Isa Tirmidhi, al-Jami` al-Tirmidhi, vol. 1, p.38.
45 Abu Na`im, Iqtarab al-Sa`ah, p. 128 ; Hujaj al-Kiramah, p. 360.
46 Sunan Abu Dawud, kitab al-Fitan, vol. 2, p. 233.
47 Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan, Hujaj al-Kiramah, p. 396.
48 Ibn al-Athir, al-Nihayah fi Gharib`l-Hadith wal-Athari, vol. 4, p. 36.
Promised Messiah [The Second Coming of
Jesus] by Maulana Muhammad Ali
> Chapter VIII : The Mahdi