The Mahdi and Messiah would be opposed and rejected: Proof from ahadith

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Last Updated on 10th December 2021

Raziullah Noman, Canada

A manuscript copy of ahadith in Sahih al-Bukhari, Mamluk era, 13th century, Egypt. Adilnor Collection, Sweden

In this article, I will focus on the prophecies of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, from the ahadith, which show that the Messiah and Mahdi was going to be opposed by the Muslims and their religious scholars in particular. 

The Holy Prophetsa commanded the Muslims to convey his salaam to the Messiah when he arrived. He said:

أَلَا إِنَّ عِيْسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ لَيْسَ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَهُ نَبِيٌّ وَلَا رَسُولٌ ، أَلَا إِنَّهُ خَلِيْفَتِيْ فِيْ أُمَّتِيْ بَعْدِيْ ، أَلَا إِنَّهُ يَقْتُلُ الدَّجَّالَ ، وَيَكْسِرُ الصَّلِيْبَ، وَتَضَعُ الْحَرْبُ أَوْزَارَهَا، أَلَا فَمَنْ أَدْرَكَهُ مِنْكُمْ فَلْيَقْرَأْ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامَ

“Nay, there is no Prophet and Messenger between me and the forthcoming Isa; nay, he will be my Khalifa in my ummah after me; nay, he will kill the Dajjal, and break the cross and lay aside the burdens of the war; nay, anyone from among you who sees him should give him my greeting of salaam.” (Al-Tabarani, vol. 5, p. 146, Hadith no. 4898)

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas – who Ahmadis believe to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi – wrote:

“The greeting of peace which Prophet Muhammadsa sent for the Messiah has a hidden prophecy from Prophet Muhammadsa, rather than a simple greeting like that of the general populace. And the prophecy is this, that Prophet Muhammadsa gives me the glad tidings that ‘no matter the strength of the tribulations from the opponents and their calling you a disbeliever and the antichrist and their continuous efforts to ruin your reputation and plans to assassinate you and issue verdicts for your killing, Allah will make them fail in every instance and keep you safe. And Allah will forever safeguard your honour, and greatness and acceptance and security from every failure in the world as is the meaning of peace be upon you.’” (Tohfa-Golarhwiyah, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 17, p. 131) 

Persecution of the Messiah

In Sahih Muslim, Prophet Muhammadsa used the following words for the Messiah:

وَيُحْصَرُ‭ ‬نَبِيُّ‭ ‬اللّٰهُ‭ ‬عِيسَى‭ ‬وَأَصْحَابُهُ

“[…] Jesus and his companions would then be besieged here.” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 2937a)

This shows that the Messiah would face a lot of persecution along with his companions and would be “besieged” by enemies as it were. This was fulfilled with the persecution and opposition Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas and his community faced and still face today – by Muslims in particular. 

“Recognise him”

The same is said in another hadith with a slight difference in wording. The Holy Prophetsa said:

‏ لَيْسَ بَيْنِيْ وَبَيْنَهُ نَبِيٌّ  يَعْنِيْ عِيْسَى  وَإِنَّهُ نَازِلٌ فَإِذَا رَأَيْتُمُوْهُ فَاعْرِفُوْهُ

“There is no prophet between me and him [Isa]. And when he descends, when you see him, recognise him.” (Sunan Abi Dawud, Hadith 4324)

The Holy Prophetsa commanded the Muslims “to recognise” the Messiah because many would fail to do so. This also proves that the Messiah would not physically descend from the Heavens because if such were the case, there would be no need to use the word “recognise” him – it would be as light as day! This point was also mentioned by the late Maulana Wahiduddin Khan Sahib – a prominent Muslim scholar from India – who wrote:

“According to one tradition, the Prophet once observed about the appearance of Christ that he would certainly come. And when he appears, people should recognise him. This tradition of the Prophet shows that recognising him will be based not on ‘his descending from Heaven but on his personality.’ Had his recognition depended upon his physical descent accompanied by angels, he would have been instantly recognised. But, according to the hadith, the actual issue was simply the recognition of the Messiah without any reference to his miraculously descending from the Heavens.” (Alarm of Doomsday, p. 52)

Condition of the ulema

The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa foretold that the condition of Muslim scholars in the Latter Days would be dire. He said the Muslim “ulema” – scholars – would be the “worst of creatures” under the skies. This also proved that the ulema would oppose the one sent by Allah. Under the title “The taking away of knowledge and the spread of ignorance at the end of time”, Imam Muslim gave a beautiful hadith of the Holy Prophetsa:

إِنَّ اللّٰهَ لاَ يَقْبِضُ الْعِلْمَ انْتِزَاعًا يَنْتَزِعُهُ مِنَ النَّاسِ وَلَكِنْ يَقْبِضُ الْعِلْمَ بِقَبْضِ الْعُلَمَاءِ حَتَّى إِذَا لَمْ يَتْرُكْ عَالِمًا اتَّخَذَ النَّاسُ رُءُوْسًا جُهَّالًا فَسُئِلُوْا فَأَفْتَوْا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ فَضَلُّوْا وَأَضَلُّوْا

“Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people but He takes away knowledge by taking away the scholars, so that when He leaves no learned person, people turn to the ignorant as their leaders; then they are asked to deliver religious verdicts and they deliver them without knowledge, they go astray, and lead others astray.” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 2673a)

Talking of future Muslim scholars, the Holy Prophetsa said:

إنما أخاف على أمتي الأئمة المضلين

“What I truly fear for my ummah are the misguided scholars.” (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith 21803)

In another narration, the Holy Prophetsa said:

يُوْشِكُ أَنْ يَأْتِيَ عَلَى النَّاسِ زَمَانٌ لَا يَبْقَى مِنَ الْإِسْلَامِ إِلَّا اسْمُهُ وَلَا يَبْقَى مِنَ الْقُرْآنِ إِلَّا رَسْمُهُ مَسَاجِدُهُمْ عَامِرَةٌ وَهِيَ خَرَابٌ مِنَ الْهُدَى عُلَمَاؤُهُمْ شَرُّ مَنْ تَحْتَ أَدِيْمِ السَّمَاءِ مِنْ عِنْدِهِمْ تَخْرُجُ الْفِتْنَةُ وَفِيْهِمْ تَعُوْدُ

“A time will come when nothing would be left of Islam except its name, and nothing would be left of the Quran except its words. Their mosques would be full of worshippers but would be devoid of righteousness. Their ulema [the religious scholars] would be the worst of creatures under the canopy of the heavens. Evil plots will hatch from them and to them will they return” (Mishkat al-Masabih, Vol. 1, p. 91, Hadith 676)

Becoming like the Jews and Christians

The next prophecy which shows Muslims would oppose the Messiah is mentioned throughout the ahadith literature. The Holy Prophetsa foretold that the Muslims would become like the Christians and the Jews. He declared:

حَدَّثَنَا سَعِيْدُ بْنُ أَبِيْ مَرْيَمَ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُوْ غَسَّانَ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِيْ زَيْدُ بْنُ أَسْلَمَ، عَنْ عَطَاءِ بْنِ يَسَارٍ، عَنْ أَبِيْ سَعِيْدٍ  رَضِىَ اللّٰهُ عَنْهُ  أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ ‏‏ لَتَتَّبِعُنَّ سَنَنَ مَنْ قَبْلَكُمْ شِبْرًا بِشِبْرٍ، وَذِرَاعًا بِذِرَاعٍ، حَتَّى لَوْ سَلَكُوْا جُحْرَ ضَبٍّ لَسَلَكْتُمُوْهُ ‏‏ قُلْنَا يَا رَسُولَ اللّٰهِ، الْيَهُوْدَ وَالنَّصَارَى قَالَ ‏»‏ فَمَنْ ‏»‏‏.‏

‘“You will follow the wrong ways of your predecessors so completely and literally that if they should go into the burrow of a lizard, you too will go there.’ We said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Do you mean the Jews and the Christians?’ He replied, ‘Whom else?’’ [Meaning, of course, the Jews and the Christians.] (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith 3456)

This further shows that the Muslims would oppose their Messiah just as the Jews, and that they would go astray like the Christians. Prophet Muhammadsa explicitly said the Muslims would follow the Jews in all of their actions. It is narrated:

لَيَأْتِيَنَّ عَلَى أُمَّتِيْ مَا أَتَى عَلَى بَنِيْ إِسْرَائِيْلَ حَذْوَ النَّعْلِ بِالنَّعْلِ حَتَّى إِنْ كَانَ مِنْهُمْ مَنْ أَتَى أُمَّهُ عَلاَنِيَةً لَكَانَ فِي أُمَّتِي مَنْ يَصْنَعُ ذَلِكَ وَإِنَّ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيْلَ تَفَرَّقَتْ عَلَى ثِنْتَيْنِ وَسَبْعِينَ مِلَّةً وَتَفْتَرِقُ أُمَّتِيْ عَلَى ثَلاَثٍ وَسَبْعِيْنَ مِلَّةً كُلُّهُمْ فِي النَّارِ إِلَّا مِلَّةً وَاحِدَةً قَالُوْا وَمَنْ هِيَ يَا رَسُوْلَ اللّٰهِ قَالَ مَا أَنَا عَلَيْهِ وَأَصْحَابِيْ

‘“What befell the Children of Israel will befall my ummah, step by step, such that if there was one who had intercourse with his mother in the open, then there would be someone from my ummah who would do that. Indeed, the Children of Israel split into 72 sects, and my ummah will split into 73 sects. All of them are in the Fire except one sect.’ He [companion] said, ‘And which is it O Messenger of Allah?’ The Holy Prophetsa said: ‘What I am upon and my Companions.’” (Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 2641)

Sects of the Hellfire 

The Holy Prophetsa put 72 sects on one side and one Jamaat on the other, to show that the Muslim sects would oppose the latter-day Messiah. He stated:

تَفْتَرِقُ أُمَّتِيْ عَلَى ثَلاَثٍ وَسَبْعِيْنَ مِلَّةً كُلُّهُمْ فِي النَّارِ إِلَّا مِلَّةً وَاحِدَةً

“My ummah will split into 73 sects. All of them are in the Fire except one sect.” (Ibid)

In other ahadith, the Holy Prophetsa made it clear that this sect would be the Jamaat of the Imam Mahdi and that all other Muslim sects lead to the Hellfire. It is narrated:

قُلْتُ فَمَا تَأْمُرُنِي إِنْ أَدْرَكَنِي ذَلِكَ قَالَ ‏‏تَلْزَمُ جَمَاعَةَ الْمُسْلِمِيْنَ وَإِمَامَهُمْ‏ ‏ قُلْتُ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُمْ جَمَاعَةٌ وَلَا إِمَامٌ قَالَ ‏»‏فَاعْتَزِلْ تِلْكَ الْفِرَقَ كُلَّهَا، وَلَوْ أَنْ تَعَضَّ بِأَصْلِ شَجَرَةٍ، حَتَّى يُدْرِكَكَ الْمَوْتُ، وَأَنْتَ عَلَى ذَلِكَ‏»‏‏.

“I [Hazrat Huzayfara bin al-Yaman] said: ‘What do you order me to do if such a state should take place in my life?”’ He said: ‘Stick to the group of Muslims and their Imam.’ I said: ‘If there is neither a group of Muslims nor an Imam?’ He said: ‘Then turn away from all those sects even if you were to bite [eat] the roots of a tree till death overtakes you while you are in that state.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith 7084)

In another hadith, the Prophetsa said that two groups would be saved from the Hellfire; one that invades India, which refers to the pious saints of India, and one who would follow the Latter-Day Messiah. He stated:

عِصَابَتَانِ مِنْ أُمَّتِي أَحْرَزَهُمَا اللّٰهُ مِنَ النَّارِ عِصَابَةٌ تَغْزُو الْهِنْدَ وَعِصَابَةٌ تَكُوْنُ مَعَ عِيْسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ عَلَيْهِمَا السَّلَامُ 

“The Messenger of Allah said: ‘There are two groups of my ummah whom Allah will free from the fire. The group that invades India, and the group that will be with Isa Ibn Maryam, peace be on him.’” (Sunan al-Nasa‘i, Hadith no. 3175)

Muslims supporting Dajjal

The Holy Prophetsa prophesied that the Dajjal would be followed by 70,000 Jews. However, in this hadith, the primary meaning was Muslims, who would become like the Jews. The Prophetsa said:

يَتْبَعُ‭ ‬الدَّجَّالَ‭ ‬مِنْ‭ ‬يَهُودِ‭ ‬أَصْبَهَانَ‭ ‬سَبْعُونَ‭ ‬أَلْفًا‭ ‬عَلَيْهِمُ‭ ‬الطَّيَالِسَةُ

“The Dajjal would be followed by 70,000 Jews of Isfahan wearing Persian shawls.” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith no. 2944)

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas stated:

“We have already proven that these Christian priests are Dajjal. And then those who agreed with the Dajjal in everything are those very same Jews about whom it is written in Sahih Muslim that around 70,000 of them would follow the Dajjal. Being with the Dajjal means agreeing with what they say, and the ahadith show that those Jews would be Muslims.” (Anwar-ul-Islam, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 9, pp. 45-46)

It is for this reason that Allama Iqbal said:

وضع‭ ‬ميں‭ ‬تم‭ ‬ہو‭ ‬نصاریٰ ‬تو‭ ‬تمدن‭ ‬ميں‭ ‬ہنود

يہ ‬مسلماں‭ ‬ہيں‭ ‬جنہيں‭ ‬ديکھ ‬كے‭ ‬شرمائيں‭ ‬يہود

“You are Christian in nature and Hindu in civilisation; these are Muslims who even the Jews are ashamed to see.”

In the next article, we will see the statements of the scholars who also agreed that the Messiah and Mahdi would be opposed. This includes visions of the saints.

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