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Wednesday 10th of August 2022
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MAHDISM IN QUR'ÓNIC EXEGESIS Imamate Order and Challenges of Globalization

The paper attempts to reveal the views of Muslim of scholars with regard to the concept of Mahdism from Sunni and Shiite perspective. On the first part we will discuss the views of Muslim exegetes toward the textual evidences which directly deal with aspects of Mahdism. We will trace it both from etymological and terminological aspect and then see their interpretation pertinent to the underlying concept. Afterward, we will discuss the concept of Mahdism, characters, and time of emergence. Moreover, we will also expose the concept of justice which becomes the salient features of al-mahdi which will emerge in the midst of endless conflict of humanity. In addition, the paper attempts to offer alternatives of an imamate government in response to the failure of man made modern system such as capitalism, socialism, humanism, as well as democratization in a way to bring people out from darkness toward happiness, peace, and justice in the community. Since the arrival of Mahdi is a part of invisible thing which is beyond the perception of mind, then, we should not heavily rely on literal concept rather the value of justice as appeared in characters of Imam al-MahdÊ should be actualized within the personality of just Muslim revivalists such as Imam Khomeini of Shiite and ×asan al-BannÉ from Sunni. In this context, we will focus on the concept of leadership based on the divine order which could be considered as noble efforts to respond toward the crisis globalization.

Concept of Mahdism
It is a part of the belief that al-mahdÊ will emerge to lead the ummah on the basis of justice as demonstrated by the Prophet (pbuh) in his mission to save the communities on the basis of divine guidance. In fact, the Qur\'Én does not mention the word al-mahdi in explicit way rather it comes from the derived word hÉdÉ yahËdu (lit. guidance) such as hËdan li al-mutaqÊn (guidance for those who have God consciousness), innaka lÉ tahdi man aÍbabta (you cannot give guidance to whom you wish). It is only the ÍadÊth of the Prophet (pbuh) which deals of the underlying concept with the use of different terms.

The common use of the term is mahdÊ al-muntaÐar and the word al-mahdi itself is the object noun (ism al-mafÑËl) to indicate a person who has been granted with special guidance from God and His Messenger through the special selection. That guidance no one can share as it is the prerogative of Allah. Al-mahdÊ will illuminate the hearts of individuals and he could see what others could not see it and understand what others could not do.

Muslim scholars are of the view that imÉm al-mahdÊ is the good news (al-mubashar) in which the person never claim himself as a new Prophet but as his follower. He is in the category of right guided caliph as covered in the ÍadÊth that says,

You have to be governed with my way of live and the way of those caliphs who have been give the right guidance and cling to it firmly.
It is agreeable that mahdÊ comes from the family of the Prophet (pbuh) who will become a just ruler (ÍÉkim al-ÑÉdil) and emerges at the time when the ummah desperately needs him to revive the sunnah of the Prophet, eliminate atrocities, and establish justice.

The Qur\'Én gives indications on the Mahdism with different interpretation in the hands of Muslim exegetes. The word al-mahdÊ which literally means the place or source of guidance, in fact, there is no single verse pertaining to that matter rather it just mentions its derivation in more than fifty six places. Muslim scholars in the field of exegesis are at loggerhead with regard to the character as well as the place of their emergence. However, they come to an agreement that al-mahdÊ has the character of justice which will dominate the whole world when crisis and conflict could not be halted. The followings are textual evidences in the Qur\'Én with regard to the emergence of ImÉm al-Mahdi as covered both in Sunni and Shiite literature. Scholars of Qur\'Énic exegesis gives exposition not on the verses which are directly related to it.

In the verse related to the belief and invisible world which says,
Who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them, On the first part the verse is related with the verse aforementioned pertaining to the exposure of al-muttaqËn (lit. those who have God consciousness). According to al-RÉzÊ Allah highly praises those who protect themselves with piety and believe in the invisible thing (al-ghayb). They are required to think and make it as evident which caused them to believe in Allah\'s attributes, eschatology (al-Ékhirah), Prophethood (al-nubuwwah), and rules of the SharÊÑah. In view of this, Allah gives the praise toward them in return.

However, al-RÉzÊ does not negate on the existing view of Shiite scholars who consider that the belief on the invisible being (al-ghayb) as stated in the word al-laÐÊna yu\'minËna bi al-ghayb is related with the emergence of ImÉm al-MahdÊ. They support this view with another verse that says,
Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them.
Apart from evident in the Qur\'Én they also support their views with this Prophetic tradition, If there is only another one day left in this world, definitely Allah will extend the duration with the arrival of a person from my family whose name is similar with my name in which the justice prevails as the injustice used to dominate before.
The other parts which is related with the emergence of al-mahdÊ can also be referred to this verse,

It is He Who hath sent His Messenger with Guidance and the Religion of Truth, to proclaim it over all religion, even though the Pagans may detest (it). Again, al-RÉzÊ exegesis says that domination of Islam over other religions would take place due to the followings:
First, it ensures positive evidences as well as miraculous aspects. This is mainly related with the word of huwa al-laÐÊ arsala rasËlahË bi al-hudÉ (lit. He is the one who sent forth His Messenger with guidance). Secondly, this religion brings characters of the truth and comprehensiveness of the message to give perfection of human lives in this world and in the hereafter. This is the one as phrased in the word wa dÊni al-haq (truthfulness of religion). Thirdly, the position of Islam is superb and dominates other religions. This part is covered in the word liyuÐhirahu ÑalÉ al-dÊni kullihi (to dominate over other religions).
Al-RÉzÊ gives certain analysis on the existence of other religions which flourish in other parts of the world. According to him, we have to see realistically that in fact there is no other religion more effective than Islam. It excels other religions in term of growth and expansion in most parts of the world. The Jewish religion and Christianity in Arab world for instance, were demise due to people conversion. Likewise, Zoroastrianism and paganism in non-Arab world were also abandoned such as in Turkey, Persia, and South East Asian countries. Secondly, one day the whole humanity will turn to Islam and no single religion remain. This is mainly based on the narration of AbË Hurayrah in which God promised to make make Islam dominates over all other religions.
Al-NisÉbËrÊ gives similar emphasis in which the arrival of al-mahdÊ is to make the perfection of Islamic religion on earth. He refers to the sayings of AbË Hurayrah in which Allah gave the promise on the superiority of Islam on earth which will take place due to the arrival of al-mahdÊ and the coming down of the Prophet ÔsÉ from the heaven. According to al-SudÉ, at the time of arriving of al-mahdÊ there will not be any person except he embraces Islam. However, prior to the arrival of the two saviors of humanity, the history shows that many kings after the arrival of Islam they converted to this religion. Even, until then, there were many non-Muslims who later converted. This indicates the effectiveness of this religion to bring people out from darkness. This complies with the Prophesies given by the Prophet (pbuh) in which the traditions says,

This earth had been made corners where I could see the Eastern and Western parts. The authority of my ummah is the one as it has been made its corners. Ibn KathÊr regards that the emergence of al-mahdÊ is somehow linked with the verse,
To Allah belong the East and the West: whithersoever ye turn there is the presence of Allah. For Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.
In his exegeses, Ibn KathÊr says that Christians will be given severe sanction due to their transgression by humiliating the sakhrah where the Jews used to pray on it. Likewise, the Jews due to their committing bigger sins compared to what have been done by Christians will be humiliated. That will take place at the time of arrival of ImÉm al-MahdÊ.

Now we will see the exposition of Muslim scholars in the field of exegesis and the relation with the arrival of al-mahdi as we refer it to this verse, O ye who believe if any from among you turn back from his Faith, soon will Allah produce a people whom He will love as they will love Him, lowly with the Believers, mighty against the rejecters, fighting in the way of Allah, and never afraid of the reproaches of such as find fault. That is the Grace of Allah, which he will bestow on whom he pleaseth. And Allah encompasseth all, and he knoweth all things.
The issue is related with the word qawm (lit. nation) which brings about different interpretation. Some of them hold that it was addressed to companions who fought against apostasy. Others consider that the verse was addressed to anÎÉr of Madinah. Even some of them regard that it was addressed to the Yemenis on the ground that when the verse was revealed the Prophet (pbuh) hinted to AbË MËsÉ al-AshÑarÊ. While Shiite scholars consider that the word qawm is related to the emergence of al-mahdi who is going to defeat other religions.
Arrival of al-MahdÊ

One exegesis mentions about the time and place of emergence of ImÉm al-MahdÊ. This is the verse in which it caused the belief on the arrival of Mahdism, And among them are men who listen to thee, but in the end, when they go out from thee, they say to those who have received Knowledge, What is it he said just then? Such are men whose hearts Allah has sealed, and who follow their own lusts. But to those who receive Guidance, He increases the (light of) Guidance, and bestows on them their Piety and Restraint (from evil). Do they then only wait for the Hour, that it should come on them of a sudden? But already have come some tokens thereof, and when it (actually) is on them, how can they benefit then by their admonition?

Muslim exegetes in their exposition toward the above verses, some of them regard that the arrival of Mahdism is not related with the specific time and place rather they gave the symptoms with regard to his arrival. Again, their interpretation is based on different narration of the Prophetic tradition. ImÉm al-SuyËÏÊ (849-911H/1445-1505M) for instance, regards that arrival of Mahdi is preceded by number of symptoms as mentioned in this tradition, On the authority of Hudayfah that the Prophet (pbuh) said, my ummah will not get perished until the emergence of al-tamÉyuz, al-tamÉyul, and al-maqÉmiÑ. \'What al-tamayuz O the Messenger of Allah\', I asked. \'People demonstrated fanaticism (aÎabiyyah) in Islam after my death\', the Prophet said. Then, "What is al-tamayul", I asked. \'Turning into qiblah (direction of prayer toward the Ka\'bah) by violating its sanctity (hurmataha)\', the Prophet replied. Then, \'What is al-maqami\'? I asked again. \'Passing the news to make war\', he said.

In one Prophetic tradition, we found that the emergence of al-mahdi would take place in Damascus as reported by Ibn Majah on the authority of AbË Hurayrah who heard from the Prophet (pbuh) in which he said, When the bloodshed or killings take place between Muslims, it will come out the respected delegation (baÑthun min al-mawÉlÊ) from Damascus as the most courageous among the Arabs and the best of weaponry (ajwaduhum silÉhan). Through them God will assist this religion.
On the one hand we found that Muslim exegetes when they give interpretation of certain text of the Qur\'Én which somehow gives indications on the arrival of al-mahdÊ, they refer to ÍadÊth of the Prophet (pbuh). The only one thing is that the arrival of al-mahdÊ would take place in the midst of crisis and sectarian conflict among Muslims due to the diversity of theological groupings. This is the authority of ÑAlÊ b. AbÊ ÙÉlib in which he said,
The war will take place among people as if they make gold in the factory (fÊ al-maÑdan). Whenever it happens, let us not blame the Syrians (aÍl al-shÉm) rather just condemn their injustices. Allah will send the savior from the heaven (yursil al-Lah sayban min al-sama) to make them get sunk in the ocean (fa yugriquhum). Even if wild animals (al-thaÑÉlib) attack, they will be defeated. Allah will send a person from the family of the Prophet selected from twelve thousands people whenever they are less, and fifteen thousands whenever their authority is increasing. Their signs are the death on three banners and seven groups with their banners and each owner of the banner got the ambition in governance. They fight and kill each others and the people from al-HÉshimÊ (family of the Prophet) will defeat them and Allah will return their unity and bounties. The situation will remain until the arrival of dajal.

In one place we found that the whole world will be affected with major crisis until the savior arrives as covered in the narration of Jubayr b. Nafir in which the Prophet (pbuh) said,
The inhabitants of the earth will be in crisis until the arrival members of the family of the Prophet and the ummah will be tested with severe punishment (bi al-rajf). If they return to God they will be repented and if they transgress, God will punish them with throwing (qadf), crush (al-maskh), and thunder (al-sawaiq).
In one report it explicitly mentions about the word al-mahdi as narrated by AbË SaÑÊd al-KhudrÊ in which the Prophet (pbuh) said,
I give you the good news about al-mahdÊ in which Allah will send to my ummah at the time of crisis and earthquakes and, as a result, the earth will be full of justice and peace such as, before that, there was full of injustice and ruthlessness. All the inhabitants of the heavens and earth are in favor to divide the earth with peace. Then, a person enquired the Prophet, \'what is duhaha\'? The Prophet (pbuh) said, \'through equality among people and the heart of members of the ummah of Muhammad feel satisfied because of the justice was widely spread and until a caller said, \'whoever need the wealth there would not be anyone to stand up except only one person then he said, you meet the treasurer and said to him, \'in fact al-mahdi requires you to give me the wealth then the person said, \'I urge it and whenever he held it up and not willing to give he will be disappointed. Then, he said \'in fact I encourage a person from the ummah of Muhammad when he was unable to do it at the time of comfortable situation then he said, that person refused and he will be accepted. Then, it was said to him, \'I will not take anything that we gave him and the situation will be in that position within seven or eight or ninth years and there will not be any goodness afterward\'.

This is another ÍadÊth that directly talks about the al-mahdÊ as narrated by AbË SaÑid al-KhudrÊ in which the Prophet (pbuh) said, Al-MahdÊ will come out to my ummah within five or seven years, then, the sky will send down the rain in abundance and the earth will not store anything from the plantation. The wealth will be in abundance, then, a person comes and say, O mahdÊ give me give me, his cloth was spread to take the amount that he could carry\'.


Again, AbË SaÑÊd al-KhudrÊ reported from the Prophet (pbuh) in which he said, Al-mahdÊ will emerge at the end period of my ummah in which, by that time, Allah will send the rain with blessing, the soil grows plantation, the wealth will be in abundance and distributed justly, the ummah is dignified and he (al-mahdi) will be in the midst of them within seven or eight years. In certain narration it talks about vicegerent (khalÊfah) which apparently pertains to al-maÍdÊ as narrated by Imam Muslim who said, At the end of the time (akhÊr al-zamÉn) there will be khalÊfah to distribute the wealth without making any account\'.

This is the narration which does not straightly deal with al-mahdÊ but mentions the arrival of a just person who is going to save humanity. Again, the tradition was narrated by AbË SaÑÊd al-KhudrÊ who heard from the Prophet in which he said, At the end of the day a person will come out from my family in the midst of test and his gift is so abundance.

Similar ÍadÊth can be referred to the report of ImÉm ÑAlÊ b. ÙÉlib who heard from the Prophet (pbuh) in which he said, hen there is only one day left Allah will send a person from us (family of the Prophet) and the world will be overwhelmed with justice as previously was full of injustice.
Again, this is the tradition which directly mentions al-mahdÊ as narrated by ImÉm ÑAlÊ b. AbÊ ÙÉlib who heard from the Prophet in which he said, Al-mahdÊ is from my family in which Allah will settle the problem of the ummah in one night.

In more explicit way, ImÉm ÑAlÊ b. AbÊ TÉlib ever said to AbË IshÉk while he was looking to his son, Hassan, in which he said, This is my son known as master (sayyid) as the Prophet gave that name. Through him will come out a person whose name is the same like the name of your Prophet (pbuh) and possess similar character. The world will be full of justice. This is the ÍadÊth which clearly mentions that al-mahdi will come from the son of Fatimah as narrated by Um Salmah who heard from the Prophet (pbuh) said, mahdi is from my family (ÑatratÊ) from the son of Fatimah.

It is also mentioned that al-mahdÊ will come from the east without naming particular place. This is the report of Ibn MasÑËd who narrated his experiences when he was sitting with the Prophet (pbuh) in which he said, When we were with the Prophet (pbuh), then, a group of youth from BanÊ HÉshim came and when the Prophet saw them, his eyes were in tears and the color of his face changed. Then I asked, we notice on your face as if there is something that you may dislike. We are the family who preferred the life in the hereafter than living in this world. And my family will witness after I demise, the great test of expulsion until the people from the East arrive bringing the black flag. They ask goodness of charity and they never give rather they fight against them. Later on, they were given the victory and then, people offer what they want but they refuse until they pay it to a person from my family who arrive to this world to establish justice as it was the full of misery before. Then, whoever witnesses him, please come although with difficulties.
This following tradition mentions about the word khalÊfah al-mahdÊ which will come out, again, from the East. It is mentioned by Ibn Majah in his book as narrated from Thawban in which the Prophet (pbuh) said, Three from your treasure will be exposed for killing. All of them are son of khalÊfah and one of them will be saved. Then, people from the East with black flags appear to fight severely against you which I could not imagine about it. If you see that person just follow him even if you have to face great difficulties as he is khalÊfah al-mahdÊ.

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