According to the second concept man is free from compulsion of nature, environment and temperament. He is the master of his destiny and righteousness. Human values are inborn in him. He can use his reasoning power and can implement his ideas. He need not be dictated to by his environmental conditions. No doubt, man is influenced by his environment but this is not a unilateral process.

Environment, too, is affected by man. Being free and a master of his environment, man's conduct and his reactions to environmental conditions are often different from that of an animal. Man's basic characteristic which, in fact, is the criterion of his humanity is his ability to control his passions and base desires. This ability which is a very bright aspect of the human life has been totally ignored by the materialists.

No doubt the holy Qur'an interprets history on the basis of the second view. From the Qur'anic point of view there has been an eternal conflict between a group of righteous people like Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad and their faithful followers on the one hand and the other group of evil-doers like Nimrud, the Pharaoh, the Jewish tyrants, Abu Sufyan etc. on the other.

Against every Pharaoh there is a Moses, says an Arabic proverb. In the words of the Persian poet, Mawlawi, two banners have always been afloat, one white and the other black. In the fight between the forces of right and the forces of wrong sometimes the former has been victorious and sometimes the latter. Anyhow, all victories and defeats have been the outcome of a set of social, economic and moral factors. The holy Qur'an emphasizes the effect of moral factors and thus turns history into a source of instruction.

If history is considered to be merely a string of accidental happenings, having no definite cause behind them, it will not be in any way different from fiction which may provide an entertainment and serve as a pastime, but it can have no instructional value.

In case we admit that history has definite rules by which it is governed, but think that human will has no part to play in determining its course, then history may be regarded as instructive from a theoretical point of view, but can have no practical value. In this case it will only be as instructive as the farthest galaxy about which we may know quite a lot, but can do nothing to determine or change its course.

In case we concede that history is governed by definite rules and man also plays an effective role therein, but think that, despite all that, the determining factor is money or force, then history will no doubt be instructive, but only as an evil. The same will be the result, if knowledge is looked upon, not as a determining factor, but as an instrument for acquiring power or force.

However, if we consider history to be subject to definite rules and at the same time admit that human will plays an effective and final role in determining its course for the benefit of the society, then and only then is history both instructive and useful and its study is educative and rewarding. The holy Qur'an looks upon history from this very angle.

The holy Qur'an has described those who are termed reactionaries as the rabble, pleasure-seekers and egoists and those who fight for the right cause as the oppressed and the persecuted. From the Qur'anic point of view the nature of the eternal struggle, which has continued from the dawn of history and which has helped the advancement of the society, is moral and human, not material, nor is it a class war.

Chapter nine

An ideal society

To hope for the appearance and revolution of the Mahdi is an inspiring Islamic social idea. Besides being a repose of trust in the future, it is an appropriate mirror in which the nature of the Islamic aspirations of mankind can be seen.

This prophecy comprise many elements, some of them philosophical, others cultural, political, economic or social and still others human or physio-human.

It is not possible in this short article to discuss the subject in detail nor to quote extensively from the holy Qur'an and the Sunnah, but, in order to make the nature of "The Big Expectation" clear, we propose briefly to throw some light on its salient features. They are as below:

Optimism about the future of humanity

There are divergent views about the future. There are some who believe that adversity, distress, disorder and mischief are the lot of humanity and on that account life has no value. In the eyes of such people the most judicious action would be to put an end to life.

Some others think that human life has already been thrown into disarray. They believe that, following the marvellous technological progress and the accumulation of huge stockpiles of the means of mass destruction, mankind has reached a stage where its final annihilation is Imminent.

The English philosopher, Bertrand Russell, says in his book, 'New Hopes' that there are people, including Einstein, who see the possibility of man having completed his span of life and think that with his wonderful scientific skill he may, in a few years, succeed in completely exterminating himself.

According to this theory there is a great possibility of the total extinction of the human race just when it is on the threshold of attaining maturity. If we rely on perceptible evidence only, such a possibility cannot be ruled out.

According to a third theory distress and disorder are not a part of human nature. Nor will the tragedy of collective suicide ever take place. In fact, a very happy and bright future awaits humanity. A great man will appear who will uproot all corruption and mischief. This is a religiously inspired theory and it is in this context that Islam gives the glad tidings of Mahdi's revolution. Its salient features will be:

  • Final victory of righteousness, virtue, peace, justice, freedom and truth over the forces of egoism, subjugation, tyranny, deceit and fraud.

  • Establishment of a world government (one government in the whole world).

  • Reclamation and rehabilitation of the whole earth so that no area remains waste.

  • Attainment of full sagacity by mankind, adherence to ideology and emancipation from animal impulses and undue social restrictions.

  • Maximum utilization of the gifts of the earth.

  • Equal distribution of wealth and property among all human beings.

  • Complete eradication of all vices like adultery, fornication, usury, use of intoxicants, treachery, theft and homicide and total disappearance of abnormal complexes, malice and ill-will.

  • Eradication of war and restoration of peace, friendship, co operation and benevolence.

  • Complete coherence between man and nature.

All these points require detailed discussion and analysis but here the idea is just to acquaint the readers with the nature of the Islamic tidings and aspirations.

Big expectations

It simply means hoping and aspiring for the materialization of the order (referred to above) which the Divine Will has destined for the world. Now let us turn back to the point that the expectation is of two kinds. One kind is constructive and dynamic which is an act of virtue and the other is destructive and paralysing which is a sort of licentiousness. We have already mentioned that these two kinds of expectations are the outcome of two divergent notions of the great appearance of the promised Mahdi. These two notions have sprung from the two approaches to the nature of historical development. Now let us explain further the two kinds of expectations.

Destructive expectation

The concept which some people have of the rising of the Mahdi and the revolution which he will bring about is only of an explosive nature. These people believe that the appearance of the Mahdi depends solely upon the spread of injustice, discrimination, frustration and disasters. They are of the opinion that, immediately prior to the appearance of the Mahdi, the forces of evil will gain a complete hold and not a single good man will be left in the world. They look forward to an explosion, following which the divine forces will redeem the truth but not the supporters of truth, for they would not be existing. On this basis they would condemn every reform and regard every sin, every excess and every injustice as valid and proper, because, according to their idea, corruption and tyranny bring the explosion nearer and pave the way for the eventual betterment of a permanent nature. They believe in the maxim that ends justify the means and as such unlawful means become lawful if the objective is desirable. That is how deadly sins besides giving pleasures are supposed to help in bringing about the final sacred-revolution. The following lines most appropriately apply to their case:

"Win the heart of your beloved even by deceit and treachery. Commit a sin if you are unable to perform a good deed."

Such people naturally dislike the reformers and all those who enjoin good and forbid evil, because they think that their action is delaying the appearance of the promised Mahdi. They, even if they do not commit the sins themselves, at least appreciate the reprehensible activities of the sinners who, according to them, are preparing the ground for the appearance of the Mahdi.

This sort of notion may be called semi-dialectic, because it regards corruption and distress as a prelude to the sacred explosion. The dialectic thinking also opposes partial reforms and allows the creation of unrest, but it has some merit, because it does so with a view to making the split wider and the fight hotter, whereas the supporters of this outrageous notion simply allow corruption and disorder and then do nothing except to sit back and hope for the desired result to follow automatically. It need not be added that this sort of notion of the appearance of the promised Mahdi is against the tenets of Islam and must be regarded as a sort of licentiousness.

Constructive expectation

All the verses of the holy Qur'an, which form the basis of the concept of the Mahdi and all the traditions cited in support thereof go against the above notion. What is inferred from the holy Qur'an is that the appearance of the Mahdi is a link in the series of fights between the righteous and the wicked and the Mahdi is the symbol of the final and complete victory of the righteous and the faithful. The holy Qur'an says:

Allah has promised the righteously striving believers to appoint them as His deputies on earth, as He had appointed those who lived before. He will make the religion that He has chosen for them to stand supreme. He will replace their fear with peace and security. They will worship their Lord without fear and will not submit to anyone other than Him and will associate nothing with His worship and obedience. (Surah al-Nur, 24:55)

The appearance of the Mahdi is Allah's favour for the oppressed and the weak and is a means of their coming to power and gaining the promised Divine succession in the whole world. The holy Qur'an says.

We have decided to grant favour to the suppressed ones by appointing them leaders and heirs of the earth. (Surah al-Qasas, 28:5)

The appearance of the Mahdi means the realization of the promise Allah made to the righteous in His sacred Book.

Verily We have written in the Psalms after the Torah had been revealed: My righteous servants shall inherit the earth. (Surah al Anbia, 21:105)

The well-known saying of the holy Prophet that Allah will fill the earth with justice after its having been filled with injustice and tyranny testifies to the fact that at the time of the appearance of the Mahdi there will exist two classes. One will consist of the oppressors and the other, howsoever small, of the oppressed who are subjected to injustice and tyranny.

Shaykh Saduq narrates on the authority of Imam Ja'far ibn Muhammad al Sadiq that the Mahdi would appear only when the virtuous would become the most virtuous and the wicked the most wicked. From this also it is evident that both the virtuous and the wicked will be in existence.

Islamic traditions make mention of a group of people who will come forward and join Imam Mahdi immediately on his appearance. From this again it is evident that the virtuous will not be completely wiped out and though their number may be insignificant, yet they will be best in the quality of faith and comparable to the companions of Imam Husayn ibn Ali.

According to Islamic traditions the rising of the Mahdi will be preceded by other risings of the virtuous. What has been mentioned as the Yamani's rising is an instance.

In some Islamic traditions a mention has been made of a government of the righteous people which will continue to exist till the rising of the Mahdi (May Allah hasten his solace) and, as we know, some Shi'ah ulama, who held good opinions about some of their contemporary Shi'ah governments, considered it probable that it would be those very governments which would last till the rising of the Mahdi.

It is gathered from the various Qur'anic verses and traditions taken together that rising of the promised Mahdi will be the last one of the chain of the battles which have taken place between truth and falsehood since the creation of the world.

The promised Mahdi will realize the ideal of all the prophets, saints and fighters in the path of truth.

Chapter ten


Belief in the Mahdi (the 'guided' latter-day ruler who will establish justice) is deeply rooted in Islam, and is an obligatory part of belief in the view of some ulama. There may be differences of opinion on the characteristics and the person of the Mahdi ,but all are of the opinion that most of the traditions on the Mahdi are right and that the tidings about him are mutawatir.

In addition to the direct references to the Mahdi in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, there are also almost 50 traditions, with direct reference to the Mahdi, in other well-known collections such as Abu Daud, Tirmizi, Musnad-i Ahmad bin Hanbal, Ibn Maja, Tabarani (in all the three collections: Al-Kabir, Al-Awsat and Al-Saghir), Al-Hakim (Mustadrak), Abu Ya'li, al-Bazzar, Ibn Hibban, Abu al-Shaykh (Kitab al-Fitan), Ibn Asakir, Ibn Adi, Abu Na'im (Akhbar al-Mahdi), Al-Royani (Musnad), al-Dailami, Al-Dani (Sunan), Ibn Mandah, Na'im ibn Hammad (Kitab al-Fitan), Al-Harith ibn Ali Usamah (Musnad), Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (Tarikh), Ibn Abi Shaibah (Musannaf), Al-Darqutni, Abu Na'im (Dalail al-Nubuwwah and al-Hilyah), Ibn al-Munadi (Al-Malahim), Abu Ghannam al-Kufi (Kitab al-Fitan), Tammam (Fawaid), Ibn Sa'd (Tabaqat), Ibn Jarir (Tafsir), Al-Muhami (Al-Amali), etc.

These authoritative source books contain almost 50 traditions of the Prophet, (Peace and benediction be upon him and his infallible progeny) which clearly foretell the emergence of the Mahdi before the Day of Resurrection. Many of these traditions are 'Sahih' and directly narrated on the authority of the Prophet by 33 well-known companions, who include: Ali ibn Abi Talib, Husayn ibn Ali, Abu Sa'id al-Khudari, Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, Umm Salmah, Thauban, Abu Hurayrah, Anas ibn Malik, Jabir ibn Abdullah, Uthman ibn Affan, Awf ibn Malik, Talha ibn Ubaidallah, Huzaifah ibn al-Yaman, Umran ibn Husayn, Abdullah ibn Umar, Ayesha, Abdul Rahman ibn Awf, Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, Ibn Abbas, Tamim al-Dari, Umm Habibah, Abbas ibn Abdil Muttalib and Ammar ibn Yasir. The most famous of these traditions is the one narrated by Abdullah ibn Mas'ud in which the Prophet said: "Even if a (single) day is left in (the life of) the world, Allah will lengthen that day to send a person of my House whose name will be like my name and whose Kunyah will be similar to mine. He will fill the world with justice and equity just as it was previously full of injustice and oppression". (Abu Daud, Tabarani, Ibn Hibban, Hakim, Ibn Maja, Abu Na'im, Ibn Asakir etc).

This and many other traditions are in accordance with the highest standards of scrutiny set by the traditionists and therefore it is the consensus of Islamic scholars of all ages that the tradition is true and mutawatir (uninterruptedly conveyed on the authority of the Prophet). Following is a selection of affirmative references to the Mahdi by Muslim authorities from the old to the modern times:

  • Ibn Taimiyyah, Minhaj al-Sunnah al-Nabawiyyah

  • Al-Qurtubi, Al-Tazkirah

  • Al-Hafiz, Abul Hasan al-Abiri, Manaqib al-Imam al-Shafi'i

  • Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari

  • Al-Hafiz al-Sakhawi, Fath al-Mugheeth

  • Al-Suyuti, Al-'Urf al-Wardi and Al-Kashf 'an Mujawazat Hazihi al-Ummah al-Alf

  • Al-Zarqani, Sharh al-Mawahib al-Ladunniyyah

  • Abul 'Ala al-'Iraqi al Husayni, Al-Mahdi

  • Al-Shaukani, Al-Tawzih fi tawatur me jaa fi'l Mahdi al-Muntazar wa'l Dajjal Masih

  • Siddiq Hasan Khan, Al-Izh'ah lima kana wa ma yakunu baina yadai al-Sa'ah

  • Abu Abdillah Muhammad Jassis, Sharh Risalah ibn Abi Zaid

  • Muhammad al-Arabi al-Fasi, al-Marasid

  • Abu Zaid Abd al-Rahman al-Fasi, Muhhij al-Maqasid

  • Al-Safarini, Al-Durrah al-Mudi'ah fi 'Aqidah al-Firqah al-Murdiyah

  • Qutbuddin Muhammad ibn Ja'far al-Kitabi, Nazm al-Mutanathir min al-Hadith al-Mutawatir Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn al-Siddiq, Al-Mahdi al-Muntazar

  • Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Ghimari, Ibraz al-Wahm al-Maknun min Kalam Ibn Khalladun

  • Ibn a1-Qayyim, Al-Manar

  • Al-Hafiz al-Dhahabi, Al-Muntaqa

  • Abu al-Tayyib ibn Ali al-Hasan al-Hasani, Al-Iza'ah lima kana wa ma yakunu baina yadai al-Sa'ah