Thursday 28th of September 2023
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Imam Mahdi (A.S.) in the Eyes of Muslim Ascetics-2

He adds that “His miracles are so many that they cannot be counted in this small space.” Then he refers to a narration which has been related by Mulla Abd al-Rahman al-Jami in Shawahid al-Nubuwwah through Hakimah, the sister of Imam 'Ali al-Naqi, the aunt of Imam al-Hasan al-Askari, and he discusses the birth of his eminence which has been already covered.
Sa‘ad al-Din Muhammad ibn al-Muayyad al-Hamawi He was born in 587 AH and died in 650 AH. He is an Iranian mystic who was widely acclaimed by his contemporaries. Explaining his views on the Guardian, the saints and Imam al-Mahdi(A.S.)he writes:
"And when it was the turn of the religion of Muhammad, he said, "After me there would be no Prophet to call people to my religion. After me there will be those who follow me and are close to God. They are called the Saints. These Saints will call people to my religion." and from that time the term ‘wali’ or ‘guardian’ came to be used in the religion of Muhammad. Allah, the Exalted has chosen twelve persons among the community of Muhammad, brought them close to Him, conferred His special sainthood on them and made them the Successors of Muhammad. The sentence, «العلماء ورثة الأنبياء» “The Scholars are the heirs of the Prophets” has been said in relation to these twelve persons, and, likewise, the statement, «علماء أمتي كأنبياء بني اسرائيل» “The scholars of my community are like the Prophets of the Israelites.” However, the last, who is the Twelfth Guardian, is the Seal of the Saints and is called al-Mahdi(A.S.)and Lord of the Time."
Sheikh Farid al-Din Attar Neishaburi Sheikh Farid al-Din Attar Neishaburi abu Hamid - or Abu Talib- Muhammad, son of Abu Bakr (died in 618 A.H.) is a famous Hanafi mystic. He wrote books both in prose and verse. His Tadhkirat al-Awliya (‘The Biographies of the Saints’), which is about the life-stories of the mystics, is counted as an authentic reference and document, and his Mantiq al-Tayr (‘The Discourse of the Birds’) is a monumental mystical work. In his Madh-har al-Sifat (‘The Manifestation of the Attributes’), he praises the great Prophet of Islam and his Household in verse, and at the end he praises the Lord of the Time.
It is interesting to know that it has been reported that this great man of letters has never praised any of the kings or princes of his time. In fact, one cannot find one piece of writing in all his works praising anybody else. Nevertheless, he has composed this excellent eulogy about the Imams of Shiism (peace be upon all of them). He has also composed other interesting odes in praise of Imam 'Ali, Master of the Virtuous (peace be upon him).
Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Balkhi Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi al-Rumi, known as Mawlawi (died in 672 A.H.) is a distinguished and great Hanafi mystic and poet. He is the author of the Mathnawi and is thought to be one of the greatest mystics and geniuses of the Muslim world. His Mathnawi is a mine of wisdom and knowledge. His other work, the Diwan-e Shams, contains his odes.
In his Diwan-e Shams Mawlana reveals his belief in the position of the Infallible Imams one by one, and after praising the Commander of the Faithful and his sons, composes some exhilarating verses in his enthusiasm for the appearance of the Hidden Imam.
Among those Sunni writers and scholars who are mostly credited as literary rather than mystic and have mentioned al-mahdi(A.S.)in their works, we can enumerate the following:
Haskafi Hanafi Abu al-Fadl Yahya ibn Haskafi is a distinguished scholar of the 6th century A.H. who died in 551 A.H. Yaqut al-Hamawi talked about his life in Mu‘jam al-Udaba (‘Dictionary of Literary Men’). Haskafi is probably one of the first men who calls Imam al-Mahdi(A.S.)in poetical language, by the name of “the Twelfth Imam” and as “that al-Mahdi in whom the Shiites believe”. In a long ode written in eloquent Arabic, he declares the Sainthood of the Ahl al-Bayt and the leadership of the Twelfth Imam, al-Mahdi (A.S.)
This ode has been cited by ibn al-Jawzi al-Hanafi in 'Al-Muntazam', vol.3, page.183, by ‘Imad al-Isfahani in his book 'Kharidat al-Asr' and by Shams al-Din ibn Tulun in his book 'al-A'immah al-Ithna ‘Ashar'.
Shams al-Din ibn Tulun Shams al-Din ibn Tulun (died in 955 A.H.) was a Sunni scholar who focused on the literary sciences as well as the Islamic sciences current in his day. He had a high rank among the learned people of Damascus and loved the Infallible and Purified Members of the Prophet’s Household very much. He wrote a book entitled al-A’immah al-Ithna ‘Ashar’ to introduce the personalities and lifestyle of the Prophet’s Household along with comprehensive issues concerning each one of the Twelve Imams (peace be upon them). This book was edited by a famous Sunni scholar named Salah al-Din Al-Munjid (the author of the distinguished book ‘The Role of the Church in Arabic Countries’) which was published by Dar al-Sadir in Beirut in 1958. An interesting point is that he mentioned therein some matters about the Promised Imam al-Mahdi (A.S.)from Sunni sources under the title “Number 12”.
He composed an excellent poem of six verses in the final section of the aforementioned book showing his love, faith and sincerity towards the Twelve Imams encouraging people to follow the Prophet’s Household.
Ahmad Jami (the Sheikh of Jam) Ahmad Jami (died in 536 A.H.) known as Sheikh al-Islam and sometimes called Jendepeel, the Sheikh of Jam, and the Spiritual Guide of Jam was a great Sufi. He is another distinguished character and famous Sunni man of letters who acknowledged the birth of the Promised al-Mahdi(A.S.)and believed that he would appear one day to improve the world. Furthermore, Sheikh Jam stressed the leadership of the Twelve Imams in an elegant ode.
Fadl ibn Ruzbahan al-Shafi‘i Fadl ibn Ruzbahan al-Shafi‘i, was originally from Shiraz and belonged to the Shafi‘i school and the Sufi path.
He was known as Khwajah Mulla and died in 927 A.H. He wrote a detailed book criticizing Allamah Hilli’s book Minhaj al-Karamah, and raised questions against the Imamate. In spite of his rashness, however, he composed an excellent ode of fifteen verses in honor of the Fourteen Infallibles, sending greetings of peace upon them at the beginning of every couplet. At the end of the poem, after sending greetings upon Imam al-Mahdi(A.S.)he spoke of the rising of the illuminating sun of his Highness and the spread of justice at the time of his appearance.
Abd al-Mu‘min al-Shabalanji al-Shafi‘i Sayyid Abd al-Mu‘min al-Shabalandji Shafi‘i was a famous Egyptian scholar who lived in the early part of the fourteenth century A.H. He composed a book entitled ‘Nur al-Absar fi Manaqib Al Bayt al-Nabii al-Mukhtar’. He was a Sunni scholar who had mentioned the Twelve Imams and referred to Imam al-Mahdi(A.S.)in particular.
Ibn Hijr al-Haithami al-Makki al-Shafi‘i Ibn Hijr al-Haithami is a great Sunni scholar who was skilled in the prophetic traditions, whose writings, such as Majma‘ al-Zawa’id have become part of the traditional sources. He also wrote some important works about the personalities and lives of the Twelve Imams and mentions al-mahdi(M.A.H.H.A.)
Al-Qadi al-Shawkani He is the author of Fath al-Qadir, Nail al-Awtar and al-Tawdih fi Tawatur ma Jaa fi al-Mahdi al-Muntazar wa al-Dajjal wa al-Massih.
Mustafa Rafi‘i Dr. Mustafa Rafi‘i, a contemporary Sunni scholar, has compiled a book entitled 'Islamuna' regarding the contemporary problems of Muslims. In his book, he has fully investigated the issue of Imam al-Mahdi(A.S.)his occultation and his government.
The scholars whose views on al-Mahdi(A.S.)have been discussed in this article are acclaimed and celebrated Muslim mystics who have all expressed their devotion, loyalty and love for the sublime position of Imam al-Mahdi(A.S.) They have expressed their attitudes in beautiful words, like what the great verifier Sheikh Sa‘ad al-Din Hamuyah has said, “Al-Mahdi(A.S.)will not appear until the secrets of Divine Unity are heard already mentioned from the fetters of his slippers.” As mentioned before, they have recited odes and verses in the honour of al-Mahdi(A.S.)and have called him the Pole of the Time, the Guardian of the Age, the Imam of the Time, al-Mahdi, the Guide and Seal of the Saints, the Secret of the Sublime Secrets, the Greatest Divine Name, the Greatest Law of Allah, and through unveiling and witnessing (al-kashf and al-shuhud) have proved his existence. Even some, like ibn Arabi and Sheikh Hasan al-Iraqi, claimed that they had the honour to meet and be with his eminence.
They have also described in clear terms the genealogy of his excellence, and almost all of them unanimously agree that al-Mahdi(A.S.)is alive at the present time. That he is the Son of Imam al-Hasan al-Askari, and he is the descendent of Imam al-Husain, peace be upon him, principles that are almost unanimously professed by the Twelver Shiites. Some great Sunni scholars have also referred to the views of the mystics on al-Mahdi(A.S.) Ibn Khaldun, the famous sociologist and historian, for example, writes:
"Contemporary Sufis follow another way to prove the existence of this Fatimid Guardian. They prove his existence on the basis of unveiling and witnessing, which is the foundation of their path. One of the contemporary Sufis who more than any other has spoken about this Fatimite Guardian is Muhyi al-Din ibn Arabi in his ‘Anqa’ al-Maghrib (‘The phoenix of the West’) and ibn Qissi in his Da‘ al-Na‘layn (‘Take off the Slippers’)."
In conclusion the views of the verifiers among the Sunnis about the Promised al-Mahdi(A.S.)are not different from the views of the Imamis. Also, the beliefs of the followers of the Household of Ahl al-Bayt with respect to the virtues, attributes and the absence of his eminence are also admitted by the mystics of the other Islamic schools.
* The present article is a summary of two articles; "The Question of Al-Mahdi the Promised One in the Discourse of the Sunnis" by Ja‘far Khoshnevis, and "Al-Mahdi from the Viewpoint of Sunni Mystics" by Rahmatullah Ziaee.
1- Aziz al-Din al-Nasafi, al-Insan al-Kamil, p. 21.
2- Fusus al-Hikam, p. 74.
3- Kashani, Istilahat (‘Terms’), p. 167.
4- Muhyi al-Din ibn Arabi is one of the mystics of the seventh century [d. 638 A.H.]. He is from the descendants of Hatim al-Ta’i. He was born in Andalusia, but spent most of his life in Mecca and Syria. He was a pupil of Sheikh Abu Madyan al-Andulusi, a mystic of the 6th century. Through an intermediary, ibn Arabi’s spiritual chain leads to Sheikh Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani. Certainly he is the greatest mystic of Islam. No one has reached his position, not before him, nor after him; because of this, he has been called “al-Sheikh al-Akbar” or the Greatest Master. Ibn Arabi wrote more than 200 books. His most important book is the Futuhat al Makkiyyah, which is a large mystical encyclopedia. Another great book of ibn Arabi is the Fusus al-Hikam; it is a concise, very precise and very deep mystical text. (See Mutahhari, Murtada, Ashnai ba Qlum Islami, Irfan, p.132 ).
Sharani in his al-Yawaqit, which is a commentary on the difficult aspects of the Futuhat, has praised ibn Arabi with excellent phrases and pure words.
5- See al-Futuhat.
6- Al-Futuhat, chapter 366, quoted in Al-Yawaqit wa al- Jawahir, Question 75.
7- Muhyyi al-Din, Sharh Manaqib Ahl al-Byit, p. 133.
8- There are many widely transmitted traditions about Imam al-Mahdi. One of the personalities who has mentioned traditions about Imam that are widely transmitted is Shawkani. (Quoted in Nihayat al-Ma‘mul fi Sharh Taj Jami‘ al-Usul, by Mansur Ali Nasf, vol. 5 , p.327)
9- Sayyid Haydar Amuli, Jami al-Asrar, p. 395.
10- Al-Futuhat al-Makiyyah, vol.3, p.327, 328
11- Shams al-Din Muhammad Lahiji Nur Bakhsh, the commentator of Golshan Raz, is a disciple of Sayyid Muhammad Nur Bakhsh. In his Commentary on Golshan Raz, he mentioned his spiritual chain from Sayyid Nur Bakhsh to Ma‘aruf Karkhy then to Imam Reza and the other Imams before him, to the Prophet. He called this chain the “Silsilat al-Dhahab” (Golden Chain). Lahiji’s fame is due mainly to his Commentary on Golshan Raz, which is known as an excellent mystical text.
12- Muhammad Lahiji, Mafatih al-I‘jaz fi Sharh Golshan Raz, 1336, p. 335.
13- Qasan is a city, close to Samarqand.(Introduction of Manazi1l al-Sa‘irin, p. 18)
Kamal al-Din Abd al-Razzaq al-Qasani, a perfect mystic, is one of the late mystics of the century, who has written a commentary on ibn Arabi’s Fusus al-Hikam and Khwajah Abd Allah’s Manazil al-Sa‘irin. He was a disciple of Sheikh Nur al-Din abd al-Samad al-Natanzi, and was skilled in both the exoteric and esoteric fields of knowledge. (Nafahat al-Uns, Abd al-Rahman al-Jami, p. 482)
Apart from the aforementioned works, al-Qasani has other books to his credit, such as Tafsir Ta‘wilat, Istilahat Sufiyyah and some treatises.
14- See Abd al-Razzaq Kashani’s Commentary on the Bezel of Seth, p. 42 and 43.
15- Sar cheshmah Tasawwuf dar Iran, by Sa‘id Nafisi, p. 216.
16- Khwajah Muhammad Parsa is a luminary among the Hanafi scholars and a great Naqshbandi mystic. He was one of the most important successors to the great Sheikh Khwajah Baha al-Din Naqshband. Khwajah Parsa learned the Islamic fields of knowledge from the scholars of his age and outstripped all his contemporaries. Acquiring the principles and applications of knowledge, he became an expert in all the Islamic philosophical and traditional sciences. He was still young when he studied Islamic law and jurisprudence with one of the great scholars and divine mystics, Sheikh Abu Tahir Muhammad ibn Hassan Tahiri. In Nafahat al-Uns Jami wrote his biography and said “Khwajah Muhammad Parsa is one of the greatest partisans of unity. (Nafahat al-Uns, p. 392).
Moreover, one of the Jami’s works is his commentary on Khwajah Parsa’s speeches.
17- It is quoted in Danishmandan Ammah wa Mahdi Maw‘ud by Ali Dawani, p. 85 and 86.
18- It is well known that the birthday of Imam al-Mahdi is the 15th of the month of Sha‘ban, not the month of Ramadan. It is not clear whether the above mistake was made by the author or by scribes.
19- Kashf al-Sitar, Haj Nouri, p.81.
20- Al-Imam al-Thani ‘Ashar, p.63, quoted in Yanabi‘ al-Mawaddah, p. 743.
21- Diwan e Shams Tabrizi, Ode 3212, p. 1213.

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