By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz
"Where is the Avenger of the sufferings of the Prophets and the offspring of the Prophets?”
"Where is the Avenger of the blood of the one martyred at Karbala?”
The above is a famous phrase from the supplication called "Nudba” which the faithful recite every Friday morning to beseech the Almighty for deliverance of mankind from the oppression by the devils in human forms of all hue and colour, including despots and democrats, through reappearance of the 12th and Last Infallible Heir of God’s Last and Greatest Messenger.
Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), as agreed by Muslims of all denominations, whether Sunni or Shi’a, had foretold of Twelve Righteous Successors, and after proclaiming on God’s express commandment his dearest cousin and son-in-law, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS) as Vicegerent (or the First of them) at the famous gathering of Ghadeer-Khom in 10 AH, said the last of them will rise as Qa’em al-Mahdi (AS) in the end times, following a long period of occultation, to end corruption and oppression on Planet Earth by establishing the global government of peace, prosperity, and justice.
The hypocrites who used to frequent the Prophet’s assemblies, as companions, tried to belie him, and in their greed for the political power of the Islamic state their very first refractory act on his passing away was the storming of the house of his Immaculate Daughter, Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA), in a bid to force Imam Ali (AS) to pledge allegiance to the coup leaders of the scandalous gathering of Saqifa Bani Sa’da.
As a result the Noblest-Ever Lady suffered a miscarriage (stillborn Muhsin the first martyr of the Prophet’s progeny), and achieved martyrdom a couple of months later, but not before exposing the usurpers of her husband’s political right of leadership in their true colours.
The sufferings of the Ahl al-Bayt, following the martyrdom of Imam Ali (AS) in Kufa in 40 AH, and that of his elder son, Imam Hasan (AS) in Medina in 50 AH, reached their climax at Karbala in 61 AH with the heartrending martyrdom of the Prophet’s younger grandson Imam Husain (AS), along with several male members of his household, including the 6-month baby, Hazrat Ali Asghar (AS).
In the subsequent decades and centuries, the 4, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th Infallible Heirs of the Prophet were martyred through poisoning by the self-styled caliphs, and yesterday on 8th of Rabi al-Awwal, we commemorated the martyrdom of Imam Hasan al-Askari (AS), the Prophet’s 11th Infallible Heir, who was forced to leave the world in the prime of his youth, at the age of 28 years in 260 AH.
The Abbasid regime then launched a manhunt in vain for the son of his victim, on learning that the Prophet’s 12th Heir, the Promised Mahdi, whose birth he had tried to prevent, was already born.
Unable to find any trace of the 5-year old orphan and deeming him too weak to pose any danger to their rule, the Abbasids continued their misrule of sins, corruption and oppression for a few more centuries, until another bloodthirsty tyrant, the Mongol Marauder Hulaku Khan, thrust the so-called caliph into several sacks and trampled him under the hooves of horses.
As for the boy-Imam, God Almighty – Who had given wisdom to Yayha (John the Baptist) while still a mere child and had granted the scripture to the infant Jesus along with the miraculous power to speak from the cradle when the ever rebellious Israelites tried to slander his virgin mother, Mary – ensured that Imam Mahdi (AS) grows into youth and manhood during the Minor Occultation before start of the lengthy period of the Major Occultation (Ghaybat al-Kubra), guiding the faithful all the time, like the resplendent sun on cloudy days.
Over a century before the birth of Imam Mahdi (AS), the Prophet’s 6th Heir, Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (AS), was expounding to a group of faithful the hadith which says: "The earth has not been devoid of a representative of God, since God created Adam; a representative that was either visible and well-known or invisible and concealed. (Likewise) The earth will not remain devoid of such a representative of God till the occurrence of the Hour (Doomsday), for if it were to remain without God’s representative, then God would not be worshipped!”
A person asked: So how does mankind benefit from an invisible and hidden representative?
The Imam replied: "Just as they benefit from the sun when the clouds hide it!”
In view of these undeniable facts, the devotees of the Ahl al-Bayt have continued to benefit from the presence of the Imam of the Age, while eagerly awaiting his reappearance for materialization of God’s promise to establish the global government of peace, prosperity and justice. So firm has been their faith that they have not just weathered the storms of seditions generated by the enemies of Islam and humanity, such as the modern day Wahhabis and Takfiris, but have spread the liberating ideology of God’s promise to make the weak the inheritors of the earth when the promised Redeemer of mankind reappears.
No wonder, Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) said to his First Divinely-designated vicegerent: "O Ali, know that the strangest of the people of faith and the greatest of them in certainty are those people who will be in end times. They had not seen the Prophet and their Imam is hidden from them, but they will believe (only) due to black upon white.”
Imam Ja’far as-Sadeq (AS) explaining this hadith has said: "The "black upon white” means the writings on paper. It means that these people will believe in the Qur’an and the sunnah as recorded in the books, even though they may not see their Imam.”
The 6th Imam has also said: "When the Qa’em shall arise, he will rule with justice, the tyrants of his time shall fear him, the righteous will be safe, the earth shall reveal its treasures, all the truth-seekers will seek his company and no follower of any religion would remain except that they see Islam and declare their faith in it.”
Now let us cast a look at the concept of Imam Mahdi amongst our Sunni brethren. There are six major collections of hadith compiled by Sunni scholars. These are: "Sahih Bukhari”, "Sahih Muslim”, "Sahih Tirmidhi”, "Sunan Ibn Majah”, "Sunan Abu Dawud”, and "Sunan an-Nisa’i”. All these books are unanimous that Imam Mahdi (AS) will come in the last days to establish the global government. These books state that Imam Mahdi (AS) is a member of the Prophet’s Immaculate Ahl al-Bayt; he is from the progeny of the Prophet’s Daughter, Hazrat Fatema Zahra (SA); he is from the progeny of Imam Husain (AS); and Prophet Jesus will also reappear and pray behind him Imam Mahdi (AS).
Many other leading Sunni scholars have written books after books exclusively about Imam al-Mahdi (AS). Ahmad Ibn Hanbal has quoted a hadith in his "Musnad” that reads: The Prophet said: "Allah will bring out from concealment Mahdi from my Family and just before the Day of Judgment; even if only one day were to remain in the life of the world, and he will spread on this earth justice and equity and will eradicate tyranny and oppression.”
This is also mentioned by another Sunni scholar, Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, who wrote: "The Ahl al-Bayt are like the stars through whom we are guided in the right direction, and if the stars are taken away (or hidden) we would come face to face with the signs of the Almighty as promised (i.e., the Day of Resurrection). This will happen when the Mahdi will come, as mentioned in the hadith, and Prophet Jesus will say his prayers behind him, the Dajjal will be slain, and then the signs of the Almighty will appear one after another.”
Let us pray to God Almighty to hasten the reappearance of the Imam of the Age, who will be accompanied by Prophet Jesus (AS), and this will make most Christians become devout Muslims. Amen