The Mahdi: Clearing Doubts and Dispelling Myths pt 2

Imam `Abdul Qadir Ibn Badran Ad-Dumi, may Allah be pleased with him, continues:

Someone might say: What you have mentioned is clear to the firmly grounded Muslim and clear in evidence except that we seek from you a decisive statement on the topic of the Mahdi.

Let me start by saying that the Ahadith which are related on the Mahdi and his appearance are all general and absolute and not specific on an individual. They are in the furthest point giving evidence on that there shall be a man that appears from the People of the Household of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and his family, as you know from the previous evidence.

His appearance shall be at the time of mass disputation among the people, oppression in the earth. He will then fill it with justice after that point. To speak in a general sense – at the time of mass disputation of people, appearance of oppression and tyranny – anyone who acts with justice and righteousness, rebels against oppression and tyranny could be called a mahdi in a sense.

This does not negate there being a number of people of righteousness but at the same time this refers to an individual as mentioned in the Ahadith. This is this case as these Ahadith refer to a number of people and not one individual. This does not negate what is explicitly mentioned in that he shall come out in the end of time as the end of every time is overthrown in favour of the next one to come.

So every age has its time and people and so the end of the Ummah is the end of its time. Now pay attention to what I am going to say about the one who says this shall be a mass transmitted part of the creed. So is this the case? Is it from the mass transmitted creed that a just man shall come out in the end of time?

Abu Mansur Al-Baghdadi narrated from Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri narrated in an attributable hadith that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “The earth shall be filled with oppression and tyranny. Then a man shall come from my progeny and be dominant for seven or nine years. He shall then fill the earth with righteousness and justice.”

There is another hadith narrated from Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, in which the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, declared, “I give you glad tidings of the Mahdi who shall come out of my Ummah at the time of mass disputes among the people, earthquakes. He shall fill the earth with righteousness and justice at the time that it shall be filled with oppression and tyranny. The inhabitants of the sky will actually be pleased with him.”

After Abu Mansur Al-Baghdadi narrated these two aforementioned Ahadith, he said, “These are authentic, mass transmitted, well known Ahadith which if someone swore that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said them he would not be wrong as the narrators are all trustworthy, truthful and well known.”

There is nothing in these Ahadith that specifies the particular individual from the Household of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. The People of the Household include the people of Al-`Abbas, `Ali, `Aqil and Ja`far. And that which is popularly known from the Ahadith is that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, gave glad tidings to his uncle Al-`Abbas of his coming and we have already explained this point.

These sentences I have spoken should make clear to you the truth, take you to guidance and teach you that the Mahdi being the seal does not mean after him is the end of time. Rather it is the end of the khilafah and the rest of the signs will elapse. This position was advanced by Imam As-Saffarini and followed by others besides him.

What As-Saffarini narrated from the hadith is that the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “His name and my name shall be the same as well as that of his father and my father.” His name shall also be Ahmad or Muhammad. There is also the hadith, “Until a man from the people of my household rules the Arabs.”

This does not prove what Imam As-Saffarini has said as it does not specify an exact time. The Children of Al-`Abbas ruled over the Arabs. Of those who were from the Al-`Abbas that ruled, how many of them had the name Ahmad, Muhammad or were from the Household. The same thing holds for many of the children of Fatimah Az-Zahra’, may Allah be pleased with her, having dominion.

Those who specify the matter to a particular individual, then they are deceived or deceiving. That type of understanding leads to people securing their own understanding after they have named themselves to be in charge and those who follow their claims are their followers.

Those who make claims of Mahdi compound their tragedy and intend to plot against Islam. These false claimants manifest Islam and the Shi`ah people tend to incline towards them and submit to their words as they understand themselves to be showing love to the Household of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and showing enmity to those who oppressed `Ali, may Allah be pleased with him.

Once you have people following that way of thinking, they spread out and can be taken by deceivers and expelled from Islam on account of them. So there will be a group from them that take their people and bring them to understand that a man claiming to be the Mahdi is the reality of the Religion and so no one else must be followed.

As for the Shi`ah, it is not permissible to take the religion from these unbelievers as they attribute kufr to the companions. Other people follow individuals that claim prophethood. Another people go to the position of believing that there is an incarnation that happens between deity and man and other statements mentioned in the textbooks of religions and sects.

This type of extravagant thinking I headlined is the case for many groups leaving from the discipline of Islam. It is then necessary to have a study such as this which obligates the people of truth that they take the correct path in rebuking whoever should bring about another theology that was not in his time, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

A truthful man once said, “For every religion is a decisive indicator.” The decisive indicator for Islam is the People of Hadith. The Straight Path is clearly laid out and obligatory to follow as explicitly given by the Exalted One in His Mighty Book in the clear, Arabic tongue and explicit words from the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, with sound narrators from the Imams of the People of the Hadith with a chain of transmission reaching the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. This is the path that will lead one to the Pleasure of Allah, Exalted be He.

It should be that the Ahadith which are used by Imam As-Saffarini to prove his point as a support all revolve around the narrator named `Asim. Imam Ahmad said about him, “He was a pious man, a reciter of the Qur’an, noble and trustworthy. Al-A`mash has memorised than him.”

But Al-`Ijli, Ibn Sa`d, Ya`qub ibn Sufyan, Abu Hatim, Ibn `Alyah, Al-`Uqayli and Ad-Daraqutni have all discussed him while the two shaikhs in hadith have not narrated from him except with corroborating reports bearing additional narrators. It is a well known position that critical analysis of the narrator is given precedence over his attributable points of praise.

One of the strangest things that As-Saffarini has quoted in this regard is the statement of Ka`b ibn Al-Ahbar, “He is named the Mahdi as he is a guided to a matter concealed. He shall bring out the Tawrah and the Injil from the area known as Intakiyyah.”

Now look at a man such as this who writes down the points of creed but is then mistaken by using these matters as generality of evidence and making Ka`b Al-Ahbar from a source of evidences. This same man put in his books Ahadith that speak of matters and some of which are fabricated. If this had been left in his book Al-Buhur Az-Zakhirah and put it under a section on benefits and insights about the state of the Mahdi, that would have been better for him and safer in discussion.

The reason this is said is that the books of creed are books of theology that are not meant to have speeches or admonitions and philosophical dialectics within them. Whoever should consider history in reality will come to know that all of what is mentioned of this Shaikh and his benefits has come and cannot be exhausted.

This same Imam wrote that As-Sufyani is a title of Yazid ibn Mu`awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan this this one is from the tribe of the Kalb. This is due to the fact that his mother – whose name is Maimun – is from the Kalbi tribe. What is authentically narrated on the news of the Mahdi also centres around incidents in the life of Ibn Az-Zubair and other things in detail that need not be repeated.

What now remains is that it is mentioned that the Shaikh, As-Saffarini mentioned in his important notes close to the end of the text on the topic, “There are many Ahadith on his appearance – meaning the Mahdi – with narration at so many different levels that it reaches the level of mass transmission by meaning alone. This has been established as such among the scholars of the Sunnah until it is counted among their theology.”

The Shaikh then mentioned a hadith which was narrated by Ibn Al-Iskaf from Jabir that is attributable in which the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, “Whoever denies the False Messiah is guilty of kufr. Whoever should deny the Mahdi is guilty of kufr.”

I would like to say that this hadith attributed to the narrator Jabir was narrated by Abu Bakr Al-Iskaf in Fawa’id ul-Akhbar reaching to Malik ibn Anas from Muhammad ibn Al-Munkadir from Jabir. Abu Bakr himself is classed as a fabricator and baseless among them.

With all that being said, Allah knows best regarding the authenticity of the chain leading to Malik. In Tah-dhibu Tah-dhib il-Kamal: “Al-Iskaf is Sa`d ibn Tarif Al-Hanzali Al-Kufi. He was declared to be weak by Imam Ahmad and others.”

It now becomes clear that from one side, this hadith is fabricated and even if it is not narrated that he is a liar, he is certainly called weak on every account. It is not fit for him to be used as a supporting evidence alone as done by As-Saffarini.

This methodology is clearly revealed in most of the books of the Sunnah – even in Al-Jami` ul-Kabir by Al-Hafiz As-Suyuti – which are devoid of rare and divergent hadith and if they are present they mention them. So in this area, As-Saffarini did not do so.

Now let us consider the statement of Imam As-Saffarini, “There are many Ahadith on his appearance – meaning the Mahdi – with narration at so many different levels that it reaches the level of mass transmission by meaning alone. This has been established as such among the scholars of the Sunnah until it is counted among their theology.”

We will say that it is necessary to safeguard the definition of mass transmission by meaning. We do not find a meaning for this besides sophistry if not defined rightly. If the intent of the term mass transmission by meaning is that the meaning of the matter is mass transmitted without any unified wording, there is no meaning for it. This is the case as mass transmission has levels of narration.

The narrations can be broken into being truthful by narrators although there is a lie in its essence while it is divided into mass transmitted and sole narrator. This means that it is divided into different categories according to the wording. Thus a text with the subject matter without the text cannot be called a text by the Consensus of the people of knowledge as the meaning kept in people’s minds must be established as long as the bearer does have truthfulness but the statement itself has some untruth in it.

The scholars of Usul – among them the scholar At-Tufi – say explicitly that mass transmission is not valid with the scholars of knowledge not having found the necessary parts of it to grade it as such. Our support is not based on the narratives that may not have benefit for us that we do not have at all. The scholars have dependence on the narrations and discussions and it is of the same calibre as the position that the world is created.

We are able to look into the situation and know that it is created which is the opposite of that which can be known by the five senses. Some people specify this understanding over others. The narrations falling under this ruling benefit the listener with certain knowledge that he would not normally possess. There are levels of knowledge that he cannot witness directly but he has a way of knowing it through other means.

An example of this would be affirmation of far away places, such as China with respect to Marrakesh or the amount of time passed between ourselves with respect to the time of the Prophet Musa, peace be upon him. There is also the time before him and other nations and this is indicated by Imam Abu Muhammad Muwaffaq ud-Din Al-Maqdisi in his book, Rawdat un-Nazir wa Junnat ul-Munazir.

If the person using the expression mass transmission by meaning refers to mass transmission with the text referring to it and bearing the same meaning, then it is just like what is referenced, ” narration at so many different levels,” then we would say the following:

When the meaning and text are both together on a topic, it is still not to be classed as mass transmission by meaning with respect to meaning alone. Most of the dispute in the statement of this Shaikh and his statements has been taken from what he has said and the intent.

The scholars of Usul from our school and others mentioned the mass transmitted texts have three conditions to be fulfilled as discussed by Imam Abu Muhammad in his book aforementioned: “The mass transmitted texts bear three conditions,

1) that it is necessary knowledge that is supported by the five senses and we can know this, like in the case of the creation being temporal, the prophets speaking the truth and there does not result any knowledge for us based in their narrations.

2) that the text and its other matters in the description are clear and well known and generally known. The number of people is at a high level as the narration and news of the people of every age is independent in itself. It is necessary for this to be in conditions as the event is established. With this said, certain knowledge does not result for us to take as truth the statements of the Jews although they narrate much from the Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, on account of their lies and denial of the abrogator and completer of the Law that they received.

3) the number of people which have reached the level of mass transmission.”

What he mentioned of mass transmission by meaning does not reach these conditions. So we then have to say what has been mentioned by some of the scholars of Usul in that mass transmission texts can be grouped into two areas, 1) mass transmission by wording and 2) mass transmission by meaning

It comes from a body of people that it is impossible for them to gather together on a lie and there are numerous differed in matters but they all share in the event that was witnessed, for example a man from Hatim gather someone a camel and another one said that he gave a horse. Someone else says that he gave a dinar. So look at the matter carefully.

There is mass transmission that something was given as those mentioning this incident all mention and share in that there was something given in this case. The Ahadith about the Mahdi according to the statement of As-Saffarini all share in it being mass transmitted with the presence of the man although it does not mention the exact time nor place nor is there an explicit narration on the Awaited Mahdi nor explicit statements on his attributes.

The people of hadith have spoken in general that there will always be a group from this Ummah upon the truth that shall not be harmed by those who abandon them. There is also the hadith that Allah shall always bring the harvest of this Religion that shall act in His Obedience. Thus whoever would be doing this would fit the classification of a type of Mahdi.

As for mentioning him as a specific individual that shall not appear except at the time of the just before the Hour, then it is not referred to as mass transmission in wording and meaning.

When he mentioned the statement, “This has been established as such among the scholars of the Sunnah until it is counted among their theology,” he did not mention a text with it so we would ask when did the scholars of the Sunnah number the appearance of the Mahdi from the generalities of the creed to such a degree that one individually must establish it? Or which Imam specifically said that affirming the Mahdi is from the conditions of faith?

This books of Tawhid and trustworthy speech are in our hands. These researches of the Imam Ahmad which were narrated from him by his companions and mentioned vigorously by Al-Qadi Abu Ya`la in Tabaqat and followed on in Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali, Ibn Muflih and Al-`Ulaimi. These are all his narrations. These are the very books of the religion by the very leadership of the Hanbali scholars and some others.

We do not find anyone mentioning the Awaited Mahdi in the books of creed in the foundations required as conditions of the faith. Indeed most of these did not mention the Signs of the End of time in the books of creed as they tended to put this under admonitions and reminders except a few scholars.

The end result of this is that the Mahdi is not mentioned in the book of theology as a condition except the Twelvers and other Shi`ah or a small portion that speak of their creed without these considerations in mind. Someone may mention that indeed Imam As-Saffarini in his wording about the Mahdi is following the Sufi initiates in the wording that is ambiguous.

I would say that this is possible as can be seen in his wording; but this can lead to a mistake as well as the ancient fathers that were Sufi initiates did not dispute in any of this but restricted their speech to striving with good deeds and what comes about in the deeds from different conditions and states.

Remember that this could be misconstrued as the statement of the Twelvers and other deniers of the Shi`ah in preferring `Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, declaring his imamship and claiming that he was given preference over everyone else in the will of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and disavowal of the Shaikhs Abu Bakr and `Umar.

After this, these same people obsessed in the doctrine of an infallible imam coming. There were many books put together in this topic and then came the Isma`iliyyah who claimed that the Imam to come had deity and incarnation of the divine. Others claimed he will return from death through reincarnation while others await one he will come after he has died. Still others await some infallible imam to appear in the Household and they take Ahadith about the Mahdi and convolute it with this falsehood as well.

Then there appeared some among the latter day Sufi initiates matters that came about in the matters of kashf without the five senses, speaking on incarnation and sole existence. These same people shared in the same doctrines of the Twelvers and other Shi`ah in the divinity of the Imams, incarnation of the divine within them and so forth and they would claim to have the qutub of the age and the High Ranking Saints among them.

It is as if the Shi`ah mixed with these initiates and started speaking together about Imams and spiritual annihilation and they both drank from the same cup of the Shi`ah. They bathed their religion in the ways of the Shi`ah, innovated tariqahs which they brought about using elaborate rituals involving the sash and other affairs which smack of the stench of the Shi`ah and filled the books of the Isma`iliyyah and latter day books of the Sufi initiates and the texts of the Fatimiyyah about an awaited infallible imam.

Some of them quoted each other and affirmed on another but all of it is building on flimsy principles among both groups. What we have mentioned is known from the books of Shaikh ul-Islam Taqi ud-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah in general and other places. It is also known from all the other books on religions and sects.

So this discussion is what was intended by Imam As-Saffarini by mass transmission by meaning and that is what he meant when he said, “the Mahdi is the seal of Imams whom there shall be no Imam after him.”

You may ask that should be said regarding the Ahadith narrated regarding the Mahdi. I would say that the situation is clarified in great details in our text, The Clear Binding Proofs in Answer to the People of Qazan. I mentioned there at length all the evidences on the topic that will establish this point of creed.

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