M Adam Ahmad, Al Hakam
In various religions of the world, the appearance of the Messiah – also known in Islam as the Mahdi – embodies the promise of rescuing humanity from injustice and turmoil and bringing in a period of righteousness and peace. For many, his arrival is considered a source of comfort and hope, particularly during difficult and contentious times.
With ever-escalating wars and increasing hostilities, one can’t help but wonder if the world can bear any more bloodshed. Given the prevailing circumstances, people of the earth are in need of a “Healer” and a “Saviour” who can alleviate suffering and ensure lasting safety. What’s required is a uniting force that can bring justice, compassion, and peace back into this world.
The Imam Mahdi in Islam
In the Holy Quran, the advent of the Messiah and Mahdi has been likened to the second coming of the Holy Prophetsa, as Allah the Almighty says:
وَّاٰخَرِیۡنَ مِنۡہُمۡ لَمَّا یَلۡحَقُوۡا بِہِمۡ
“And He will raise him among others of them who have not yet joined them.” (Surah al-Jumu‘ah, Ch. 62: V.4)
This verse means that Allah will raise the latter-day Messiah and Mahdi among others, besides the companions who have not yet joined them. At the time when this verse was revealed, the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, enquired from the Holy Prophetsa about its meaning. Prophet Muhammadsa placed his hand on the shoulder of Hazrat Salman al-Farisira and said, “When faith will ascend to the Pleiades, one person or many people of Persian descent will re-establish faith in the world.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab at-tafsir, Hadith 4897)
In other words, the Holy Prophetsa announced the arrival of this man of Persian descent, who would bring back the glory of Islam and restore faith in the world during the Latter Days, just as if it were his own arrival.
Arrival of the Imam Mahdi
The Holy Quran, the ahadith, and the sayings of the elders of the ummah substantiate that the Holy Prophetsa prophesied regarding the arrival of the Messiah and Mahdi in his ummah at the head of the 14th century Hijri. Allah the Almighty states:
یُدَبِّرُ الۡاَمۡرَ مِنَ السَّمَآءِ اِلَی الۡاَرۡضِ ثُمَّ یَعۡرُجُ اِلَیۡہِ فِیۡ یَوۡمٍ کَانَ مِقۡدَارُہٗۤ اَلۡفَ سَنَۃٍ مِّمَّا تَعُدُّوۡنَ
“He will establish His command from the heaven to the earth according to His plan, then it will ascend to Him during a period, which, according to your reckoning, will extend to a thousand years.” (Surah as-Sajdah, Ch.32: V.6)
This verse elucidates that Muslims will continue to weaken in the world for a thousand years. Then, a divinely appointed Messiah and Mahdi will appear and restore Islam in accordance with the prophecies of the Prophet Muhammadas.
The first three centuries of Islam were deemed by the Holy Prophetsa to be the best centuries, and it was inevitable that the thousand years during which the faith was to rise to the Pleiades would undoubtedly begin following these three centuries. Thus, it was destined that Islam would revive after 1300 years, and this could only occur with the advent of the Mahdi and Messiah. The following hadith also testifies to the above explanation:
اَلْآیَاتُ بَعْدَ الْمِائَتَیْنِ
“The [major] signs [will appear] after two hundred years.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab al-Fitan, Hadith 4057) “Al-ayat” in this hadith points to major signs that will become manifest after the first millennium. The scholars, including Shah Waliullah Muhadith Dehlvi and Maulvi Siddiq Hasan Khan, agree that “after two hundred years” means the thirteenth century.
Mullah Ali al-Qari also explained that “al” before “mi’atayn’” refers to the time of two hundred years after the first millennium. (Mirqat al-Mafatih Sharh Mishkat al-Masabih, Kitab al-Fitan, Part 10, p. 100, Hadith 5460)
Who is the Imam Mahdi?
Describing the last age and disclosing the identity of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, Prophet Muhammadsa, the last law-bearing messenger of Allah the Almighty, said:
لَا یَزْدَادُ الأَمْرُ اِلَّا شِدَّۃً وَلَا الدُّنْیَا اِلَّا إِدْبَارًا وَلَا النَّاسُ اِلَّا شُحًّا وَلَا تَقُومُ السَّاعَۃُ اِلَّا عَلَى شِرَارِ النَّاسِ وَلَا الْمَہْدیُّ اِلَّاعِیْسَى ابْنُ مَرْیَمَ
“The matters will get extreme [by the day]. The world will grow in moral depravity and the people will increase in greed. The Hour will come only on the worst of people and there will be no Mahdi except Jesus, son of Mary.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab al-fitan, Hadith 4039)
The above hadith clearly shows that the latter-day Mahdi will be none other than the Promised Messiah of the last age. The hadith of “لَا الْمَہْدیُّ اِلَّاعِیْسَى ابْنُ مَرْیَمَ” has been recorded by several other narrators of Hadith and is therefore considered authentic. For instance, this tradition is mentioned by Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Abdullah (d. 405AH) in Mustadrak al-Hakim, Abu Nu‘aym al-Isfahani (d. 430AH) in Hilyat al-Awliya, and Uthman bin Saeed al-Dani (d. 444AH) in Al-Sunan al-waridah fi al-fitan, etc.
In another hadith, the Holy Prophetsa said:
یُوْشَکُ مَنْ عَاشَ مِنْکُمْ اَنْ یَّلْقٰی عِیْسَی ابْنَ مَرْیَمَ اِمَامًا مَھْدِیًّا وَحَکَمًا عَدْلاً
“Whoever lives among you shall meet Jesus son of Mary as an Imam Mahdi [Reformer] and a Hakam ’Adl [Just Arbiter].” (Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal [Mutarjam: Maulana Muhammad Zafar Iqbal], Vol. 4, p. 564, Hadith 9312)
The aforementioned hadith manifestly elaborates that the Promised Messiah is in fact the Imam Mahdi. It is thus established by the traditions of the Holy Prophetsa that the Mahdi and Messiah of the latter days will be one and the same person.
Signs of the Imam Mahdi
Highlighting the attributes and signs of the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi, Prophet Muhammadsa said:
وَالَّذِي نَفْسی بِیَدہِ لَیُوشِکَنَّ أَنْ ینْزِلَ فِیْکُمُ ابْنُ مَرْیَمَ حَکَمًا عَدْلاً، فَیَکْسِرَ الصَّلِیْبَ، وَیَقْتُلَ الْخِنْزِیْرَ، وَیَضَعَ الْجِزْیَۃَ، وَیفِیْضَ الْمَالُ حَتَّى لاَیَقْبَلَہُ أَحَدٌ، حَتَّى تَکُونَ السَّجْدۃُ الْوَاحِدۃُ خَیْرًا مِنَ الدُّنْیَا وَمَا فِیَھا
“By Him in Whose hand is my soul, the son of Mary will soon descend among you as a Hakam ’Adl [Just Arbiter]. He will break the cross and slay the swine, and there will be no jizya [tribute], and he will distribute wealth such that no one will accept it, and one prostration will be better than the whole world and all that is in it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab ahadith al-Anbiya, Hadith 3448)
The above hadith illustrates that Christendom will lose its glory in the age of the Messiah.
There will be no need for the Jihad of the sword in the time of the Mahdi, (hence, no jizya) and he will spread insightful pearls through his teachings and writings, so much so that no one will accept them. He will draw their attention to the greater Jihad.
Moreover, the teachings of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi will ensure lasting peace and justice.
Here, it is necessary to mention that some people are still waiting for a Mahdi who will avenge injustices and either turn everyone into believers or else, annihilate them. It seems that in doing so, he will cause violence and destruction in a society already on the verge of collapsing with conflicts and divisions.
On the other hand, a considerable number of people believe that rather than taking revenge, the Messiah and Mahdi will establish harmony by ensuring justice and lay down rules for lasting peace. This seems to be the need of the hour and the true picture of the Mahdi in light of the teaching of the Holy Quran, which clearly states that “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.257)
In another hadith, the Holy Prophetsa said:
کَیْفَ أَنْتُمْ إِذَا نَزَلَ ابْنُ مَرْیَمَ فِیْکُمْ وَإِمَامُکُمْ مِنْکُمْ
“How will you fare when the son of Mary descends among you and he will be your Imam from among you?” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab ahadith al-anbiya, Hadith 3449) A prominent sign of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi is mentioned in this hadith that he will come from the Ummah of the Holy Prophetsa and will be their Imam from among them. This also clarifies that the latter-day Messiah will be a servant and follower of the Holy Prophetsa who will come as an embodiment of Jesus, son of Mary.
Hence, the Holy Quran and the ahadith are replete with countless signs of the last age and the Mahdi. For example, solar and lunar eclipses, falling of stars and comets, abandoning of camels, appearance of antichrist and God and Magog, pandemics, earthquakes, etc.
Has the Imam Mahdi arrived?
Let us now take up the most anticipated question of whether this long-awaited Messiah and Mahdi has already arrived or whether the world will have to endure more before his coming.
The answer to this question about the arrival of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi is very simple and straightforward. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas has already been sent by God Almighty as the Imam Mahdi and Messiah of the age. Prophet Ahmadas, born in Qadian, located east of Damascus, is revered by many Muslims as the long-awaited Messiah. His arrival marks a significant event in the history of Islam, as many prophecies of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophetsa were fulfilled in his favour.
In the present age, the Ahmadiyya Jamaat of the Promised Messiah and Mahdias is steadily progressing under the guidance of his fifth successor, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaa.
Thus, it is incumbent upon every Muslim to adhere to the following instructions of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa:
فَإِذَا رَأَیْتُمُوہُ فَبَایِعُوہُ وَلَوْ حَبْوًا عَلَى الثَّلْجِ ، فَإِنَّہُ خَلِیْفَۃُ اللّٰہِ الْمَھْدِیُّ
“And when you behold him, pledge allegiance to him, even if you have to crawl over the snow, for he is the Khalifa of Allah, the Mahdi.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab al-Fitan, Hadith 4084)
مَنْ أَدْرَکَ مِنْکُمْ عِیْسَى ابْنَ مَرْیَمَ فَلْیُقْرِئْہُ مِنِّی السَّلَامَ صَلِّى اللّٰہُ عَلَیْھِمَا وَسَلِّمَ
“Those of you who shall meet Jesus, the Son of Mary, shall convey my greeting of peace (salaam) to him.” (Al-Mustadrak ‘ala Sahihayn)