Articles first published in Dar al Uloom's monthly magazine "Al-Balaagh" in the month of Safr 1424 Hijri (April 2003) and later published in Dar ul Uloom Duoband's monthly "Dar-ul-Uloom" This Articles is related to the year 2004 but however its researchable and knowledgeble points are benefits to all.
When Qiyamah will occur is one of those things, which other than Allah no one else knows. But there are some signs, which were foretold by the Prophet . Some are known as Alamate Sughra, which means minor signs. They are those signs that will definitely happen before Qiyamah but it will not mean that after them, Qiyamah will be imminent. Quite a few of these minor signs have up to now already occurred and this reality is crystal clear to the people of knowledge. As for the layman, Shaykh Muhammad Yusuf Ludhyanwi's book Asre Hadhir Hadeethe Nabawi Ki Roshni me (The Modern Age in the Light of Prophetic Teachings) and Mufti Muhammad Taqi Uthmani's Damat Barakatuhum sayings Fitne Jo Pehle Se Bata Diye Gaye (The Tribulations which have been foretold) and Fitne Ki Daor Main (In the Age ofFitnah), (In Thikr Wa Fikr, page 229-242) these will be sufficient for his knowledge.
There are other signs, which are known as Alamate Kubra, which means major signs. These signs will start happening or start appearing one after the other very near to Qiyamah, and they will be extraordinary. The appearance of Mahdi is an important link in the chain of major signs. In fact, it will be one of the first of the major signs of Qiyamah. Regarding this Imam Muhammad Ibne Ahmad Safarini writes:
'The appearance of the Imam of all followers, the sealer of all Imams, Muhammad Al-Mahdi will be one of the first major signs of Qiyamah.'(Lawa'ihul Anwaril Bahiyyah, page 67, volume 2)
There are so many Ahadeeth regarding Imam Mahdi that according to the science of the Muhadditheen, it has reached the status of TawStur. Shaykh Shareef Muhammad Barzanji says:
'It is known for a fact that the Ahadeeth relating to Mahdi, regarding his appearance in the last era, and his descendancy from the Prophet ft from the projeny of Fatimah(ra) have reached the status of Tawaturul Ma'nawi. Thus there is no reason to deny them.' (Al Isha'atu Li Ashraatis Sa'ah, page 112)
Now, the way it is an undeniable fact that Imam Mahdi will one day appear, this is also without doubt that the Law Maker has not mentioned a specific date for the appearance. Regarding this, Nawab Siddeeq Hasan Khan Qanuji Bhopali writes in his book Al Itha'ah Lima Kana Wa Yakoonu Bayna Yaday Tilkas Sa'ah:
'There is not the slightest doubt that Mahdi will appear at the end of time without a fixed date.' (Al Itha'ah, page 145)
Shaykh Muhammad Yusuf Ludhyanwi(ra) writes in his book Al Mahdi Wal Maseeh Ki Bare Mein Panch Sawalon Ka Jawab (Answers to Five Questions Regarding Mahdi and the Maseeh):
'On what date will the allegiance to Mahdi take place? This is not known.' (Al Mahdi Wal Maseeh, page 22)
In the present age of decline, when the Muslim Nation is passing through a critical stage, the appearance of Mahdi has become a more sensitive issue than in times gone by, and a large number of Muslims can be seen to be waiting for the appearance.
Here we should note that the 12th and last Imam of the Shiahs is Mahdi. It is their desire that he appears quickly, that is why almost all Shiah writers affix the sentence -May Allah quicken his appearance to the word Mahdi. But it should be known that the Shiah's Mahdi has already been born in the 5th century hijri, and at the age of 5, he miraculously disappeared in the Valley of Samrah in a cave called Surra Man Ra'a.
Even now he exists and is alive and will reappear near to Qiyamah. This is unfounded, baseless fiction. There is no Mahdi in the world at this very moment in time that will suddenly appear from the Valley of Samrah. The word Mahdi, in the terminology of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah which in reality is the terminology of the Sharee'ah, is used for that noble person whose appearance near to Qiyamah before Eesa will descend, has been mentioned in the Ahadeethe Mutawatirah and for whom there are specific signs and identifying incidents mentioned with authentic chains of narration in the Books of Ahadeeth which correspond only to this 'specific' Mahdi and no one else.
A lot of Muslims nowadays wish for the appearance of Mahdi. Bearing in mind prevailing conditions, as far as a desire for the appearance of Mahdi, free of any fixed year or month is concerned then there is no harm. Indeed more than just a wish, keeping hope is also fine. This is because from the Ahadeeth we get to know that his apperance will bring with it the transformation of the Muslim nation from decline to ascension. But problems arise when a date is fixed.
The Grand Mufti of Pakistan, Mufti Muhammad Rafee' Uthmani damat barakatuhum writes:
'With so many signs and their details the reader might start assuming that by linking up events he will be successful; in coming up with an exact date for Qiyamah. But this has never happened nor ever will. The Qur'an clearly states:
'The Day of Judgement will not come upon you but suddenly.'
The reason for this is that firstly, regarding many signs the order of which comes before the other cannot be found, and those signs whose order is mentioned in the Ahadeeth, then in many cases one does not know the time span between them. Also, many Ahadeeth contain such generality that the meaning cannot be determined with certainty.' (Alamate Qiyamah Awr Nuzule Maseeh Alayhis Salam, page 119)
Shaykh Badre Alam Mirthi Muhajire Madani(ra) mentions:
'This should also be taken note of that declaring the full details of events and the order between their component incidents is not the role of a prophet. This is the work of a historian. A prophet simply foretells future incidents according to necessity. Then when these incidents start happening their details become clear. So it is not correct to strive to find out the exact dates of the incidents connected to the Ahadeeth of Imam Mahdi and nor is it correct to give an exact order between the incidents which have been authentically transmitted to us. Neither is it right to create doubt in the original forecasts. The correct path is to believe in all the things that have been mentioned in the Ahadeeth which are authentic exactly as mentioned and not to go into any more detail.' (Tarjumanus Sunnah, page 376. volume 4)
Some people after witnessing present situations have predicted and fixed the coming year, which is the year 2004CE as the year for Imam Mahdi's appearance based upon a Hadeeth and sayings which have been connected to some of our pious elders and their visions. One evidence for Imam Mahdi's appearance in the year 2004CE, presented as a Hadeeth, is this that Shah Rafee'uddin Dehlawi(ra). It mentions in his book, Alamate Qiyamah:
'Imam Mahdi, whilst doing Tawaf of the Ka'bah, when he will be between the Rukn and Maqame Ibraheem, will be recognised by a group of Muslims and these people will give their allegiance to him by force.'
The sign of this incident is this that in the Ramadhan before this there will be a solar and a lunar eclipse.
And these two eclipses are going to happen in Ramadhan of the coming year. Thus in the month of Zul Hijjah, Imam Mahdi will appear and the month of Zul Hijjah according to the solar calendar falls in the year 2004CE. The above mentioned evidence is derived from the following Hadeeth:
Imam Dara Qutni(ra) narrates from Aboo Sa'eed Al-Astakhri who narrates from Muhammad Ibne Abdullah Ibne Nawfal and he from Ubayd Ibne Ya'eesh and he from Yunus Ibne Bukayr and he from 'Amr Ibne Shamr and he from Jabir and he from Muhammad Ibne 'All that Muhammad Ibne 'All said: 'Indeed our Mahdi has two such signs that since the Heavan and Earth have been created, have never happened before. (One is) There will be a lunar eclipse on the first night of Ramadhan. (The second one is) In the middle of this same Ramadhan there will be a solar eclipse and these two signs have never happened since the creation of the Heaven and Earth.' (Sunan Dara Qutni, page 45, volume 2)
However, to use this Hadeeth as evidence is wrong for a few reasons:
1. This narration which has been presented as the saying of the Prophet Muhammad H, in reality is not his saying at all. In fact it is the saying of Muhammad Ibne 'Ali. Unless there is clear evidence, to attribute this saying to the Prophet H is a false accusation on the Prophet , which has been severely condemned in the Ahadeeth.
2. There are a lot of narrators by the name of Muhammad Ibne 'Ali. Thus Muhammad Ibne 'Ali in this narration is an unknown narrator. It should also be remembered that by this, for the Shiahs and Qadyanis to conclude that it is Baqir -it is without foundation.
3. Jabir, who narrated this Hadeeth from Muhammad Ibne 'Ali is also unknown. Nothing is known regarding him. 'Amr Ibne Shamr (the narrator from Jabir) used to narrate a lot of Ahadeeth from Jabir Al-Ju'fi as clarified by Hakim Aboo Abdullah. This is why some scholars have taken Jabir in this Hadeeth as Jabir Al-Ju'fi as a possibility and Jabir Al-Ju'fi was an open liar, fundamental and extreme Shiah and a curser of the Companions y of the Prophet Muhammad ai. (For in-depth detail, look up Tahtheeb At Tahtheeb, page 12-16, volume 2.)
4. In this narration, one narrator is 'Amr Ibne Shamr and he is a liar, Rafidi, astray and curser of the Companions &. He used to relate fabricated narrations using the names of strong narrators. For these reasons the Muhadditheen have classified him as Munkar and Matrook and decided not to accept his narrations. Hafiz Ibne Hajr Al-Asqalani writes:
"Amr Ibne Shamr Al-Ju'fi Al-koofi Ash Shi'i Aboo Abdullah: Abbas narrates from Yahya that he is nothing. Jawsjani says: 'He is a deviator and a liar'. Ibne Hibban says: 'A Rafidi, Swears at the Companions y of the Prophet Muhammad at and narrates fabricated Ahadeeth using strong narrator's names.' And Bukhari <$& says: 'He is Munkarul Hadeeth.' Yahya says: 'His Hadeeth should not be written.' Sulaymani says that: 'Amr used to wear clothes of the Rawafidis.' And Aboo Hatim says: T asked my father regarding him and he said, 'He is a very Munkarul Hadeeth,weak in Hadeeth, one should not engage himself with his narrations, leave him.' He didn't add a word to this.' And Aboo Zurah says: 'Weak in Hadeeth,' and Nasa'i says in Tamyeez: 'Not strong and his Hadeeth should not be written.' And Ibne Sa'd says: 'And he had a lot of Ahadeeth but they were very weak. He is Munkarul Hadeeth,' and Aboo Ahmad Al-Hakim says: 'He is not strong to the Muhadditheen and Hakim says: 'Aboo Abdullah used to narrate a lot of fabricated Ahadeeth from Jabir Al-Ju'fi which other than him no one else narrated.' And 'Uqayli, Dawlabi, Ibne Jarood and Ibne Shaheen all counted him amongst the weak. 'Amr Ibne Shamr: 'Matrookul Hadeeth.' (Lisanul Meezan, page 336-337 and 372, Volume 4)
Because of the above mentioned technical reasons, this Hadeeth cannot be depended on.Thus this Hadeeth cannot be used as evidence for a matter as important as the appearance of Mahdi nor can it be used to substantiate the belief that at the time of Imam Mahdi there will neccessarily be such eclipses and that this will be the sign of Mahdi's appearance
5. The founder of Nadwatul 'Ulama Lukhnow, Shaykh Sayyid Muhammad 'Ali Mungeri(ra) wrote in his book, Dusri Shahadate Asmani in refutation of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadyani's claim of being Mahdi:
'Mr Keith (the author of 'Use of Globe' and a famous astronomer) has given a one hundred year (180ICE to 1900CE) listing from which one can tell that within the span of these hundred years, a combination of a solar and lunar eclipse, both in the blessed month of Ramadhan occurred five times. In Hada'iqun Nujoom's (a voluminous 1158 page book written in Persian on Fithaghorthi's astronomy) list 3 such eclipses have been recorded within a period of 63 years.'
After this he reproduces a list for 46 years from the book and writes: 'These books have been in print for a long time but till now no one has accused them of being wrong.' (Dusri Shahadate Asmani, page 26-27)
From this we understand that to declare the conjunction of both eclipses happening in Ramadhan of this year as signs of Imam Mahdi is without evidence because such eclipses have happened much in the past.
6. In the above Hadeeth, there wasn't just a general mention of Ramadhan for both eclipses - for the lunar eclipse the first of Ramadhan, and for the solar the fifteenth of Ramadhan were specified. According to astronomical data, in the present year (2003), there will be a lunar eclipse on the 9th of November and on the 23rd there will be a solar eclipse, dates which according to calculations do not coincide with the 1st and 15th of Ramadhan. It is also worth noting that according to the present year's calculations the solar eclipse will not be visible from the Haramayn. Not only that, it will not be visible from the whole of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where Imam Mahdi is to become manifest!
A similar narration to the aforementioned Hadeeth is to be found in Shaykh Yoosuf Al-Maqdisi Ash-Shafi'i's book Iqdud Durar Fee Akhbaril Muntazar (page 135, volume 1) and in the Shiah's book Basharatul Anam Bi Zuhooril Mahdi Alayhis Salam (page 100) by Kazimi, though in this narration it says: 'The solar eclipse will be in the middle of Ramadhan and the lunar eclipse at the end of Ramadhan, and these two signs have never occurred since the time Adam was sent onto to the Earth.'
From a technical point of view almost the same argument applies to this narration as to the one from Sunan Dara Qutni mentioned earlier.
The second evidence cited to prove Mahdi's appearance in the year 2004 CE is that according to Shah Ni'matullah Wali's prediction the birth of Mahdi took place in the year 1964 CE or 1965 CE. From our pious elders H, Shaykh Fakhruddin Muradabadi H, the former Shaykhul Hadeeth of Darul 'Uloom Deoband in his lessons, Shaykh Badre Alam Mirthi H, the former teacher of Hadeeth in Darul 'Uloom Deoband in his lessons or in his talks, Shaykhul Hadeeth Muhammad Zakariyya Muhajire Madani H in a gathering in Sahranpur, and the famous Muballigh, Shaykh Muhammad Umar Palanpuri H in South Africa's Springfield gathering - all mentioned that the birth of Mahdi has already taken place. This is the first rationale. The second argument is made to follow that at the time of his appearance, Mahdi's age will be 40 years.
The conclusion is reached that in view of his birth being in 1964 or 1965, the year of his appearance will be 2004. Thus he will appear next year.
The above mentioned does not constitute evidence to specify a year for Mahdi's appearance for the following reasons:
1. Shaykh Shah Ni'matullah Wali's prediction is unclear and ambiguous. This is the reason why some people, in the light of his prediction, fixed the year 1402 AH, some the year 1421 AH, some the year 1423 AH and some the year 1424 AH for Mahdi's appearance. As for the statements of our pious elders like Shaykh Fakhruddin H etc, news of the birth of Mahdi was not such an insignificant matter that members of their vast circles of teaching and guidance and the thousands of individuals participating in the Tableeghi gatherings didn't consider it relevant and worth bothering about and up to now haven't mentioned it. Rather it was the demand of the importance of the subject that a lot of the listeners would have narrated it with enthusiasm and interest. That is why connecting these pious elders with these sayings sounds doubtful.
2. Shah Ni'matullah Wali inclusive, there is no mention from these pious elders of any evidence or reference of Mahdi's being born after so many years or of his already having being born.
3. It is possible that these pious elders mentioned his birth as a possibility. Thus, just as there is a possibility of his being born, it is also possible that he has still not been born. Therefore this cannot be used as evidence. Possibilities like this regarding the appearance of Mahdi have been mentioned already a few years ago. In a book called Jang Aa Rahi he (page 78-79), it states:
'Famous female American psychic Jean Dickson stated that a child was born on 5th February 1962 CE (1381 AH) in the Middle East who will bring revolution and become the ruler of the whole world and thereafter the whole world will become one.' In this book it says: 'If it is assumed that this child is Imam Mahdi then 40 years will make 1421 AH the year of Mahdi 's appearance, and this is the very year that emerges from Shah Ni'matullah Wali's prediction as the year of Mahdi's appearance. In this way, these two forecasts from the East and the West assume a degree of great importance, a fact which the Islamic World should benefit from.' Look! 1421 AH has passed and the appearance of Imam Mahdi has still not occurred.
4. It is possible that these pious elders mentioned by means of their own visions that Imam Mahdi will be born after so many years or that he is already born. Firstly, it is a matter of suspicion that non of the students, khulafa and ever present attendants of the aforementioned pious elders of the immediate past narrate it.
Secondly, visions in themselves are proven by authentic sources but in the visions of non-prophets, there is a possibility of the time and place etc being wrong. Faqeehun nafs, Shaykh Rasheed Ahjnad Gangohi H states:
'Visions are of three types. One is Tahtat Takween in which a believer and a non-believer is the same. Another is from the Lawhe Mahfooz, which is exclusive to Muslims, and there is a special Ilm from Allah ii, reserved for the prophets. In the first two there is a possibility of the vision being wrong but in the third one it is not possible, because in the former two, time and place can be estimated, but in Allah's HI knowledge, past, present and future are all the same. That is why the knowledge of the prophets is free from error.' (Arwahe Thalathah, page 269)
Some people of visions have had visions regarding the year of Mahdi's appearance before as well which were proven wrong on reaching the time. Shaykh Muhammad Ya'qoob Nanotwi writes in one of his letters (received on 12th Shawwal 1294 AH) 'Some people of visions think that in the beginning of the coming century, Mahdi's appearance and the promised signs of Qiyamah will start to occur and some say that the time is still far away. And Allah it knows best and to say more is useless. What Allah wants will happen." (Maktoobat Wa Bayade Ya'qoobi, page90)
He also writes in another letter (received on 24th Zul Hijjah 1299 AH) whilst interpreting a dream:
'Witnessing Imam Mahdi is not so farfetched, for many of the signs are evident. And in line with the visions of the pious elders it is not unimaginable that he appears in the first or second year of this century. And Allah knows best.' (Ibid)
From this one understands that some people of visions saw Imam Mahdi's appearance to be in 1301 AH or 1302 AH and it is now 1424 AH but so far Mahdi has not appeared.
Thirdly, visions of the Friends of Allah if can only be accepted when they do not contradict the Qur'an, Sunnah, consensus of the Ummah and correct analogy, and this matter is agreed upon by all the early and later scholars, as mentioned by Qadhi Thana'ullah Pani Pati in Irshadut Talibeen. And to fix a year for the appearance of Mahdi is against the authentic sources.
The purport of the Islamic sources in general is that the time of Mahdi's appearance has been kept a secret by Allah if himself and one day this secret will suddenly be disclosed in front of the people. In fact this affair has been kept so secret that Imam Mahdi himself will be unaware of his status until the time prior to his appearance. Regarding this there is a narration from Ali(ra):
'The Prophet H said: 'Mahdi will be from us, the Ahlul Bayt. Allah ft will give him his capability overnight.' (Sunan Ibne Majah, page 310, Musnad Ahmad page 106, Volume 1)
The chain of narrators is authentic and there is no taint on it as mentioned by Muhaddith Ahmad Ash Shakir AI Misri and Shaykhul Islam AI Madani.
Imam Ibne Katheer(ra) says in the commentary of this Hadeeth:
'This means that Allah it will bestow upon him his special Grace and ability and then first he will inspire him with the reality and inform him of that status of which he was previously unaware.' (AI Fitan Wal Malahim, page 31, Volume 1)
Shaykh Badre 'Alam Mirathi Muhajire Madani(ra) writes:
'A deep truth is unravelled by this and that is that the question may arise to some of the weak-hearted that seeing as Imam Mahdi is such a famous person then how will he remain unrecognised by the people of knowledge and the general public? So to wait for times of difficulties for his appearance does not seem logical.
But those inner qualities and spirituality will be kept hidden according to the Divine Will until the time of his appearance arrives when his inner attributes will be manifested for all to see. It's as if this is*also a miracle that before his time of appearance, no one will be able to recognise him and when that time comes, Allah it will put in him all those capabilities in just one night after which his being Mahdi will be clear to even a blind person.
See how the appearance of Dajjal is proven by authentic Ahadeeth, but this proven fact before his manifestation remains so secret. And when these events are of the times of tribulation to ask for insights into Imam Mahdi's appearance and DajjaTs existence or to debate regarding this is a trial in itself.' (Tarjumanus Sunnah, page 404-405, volume 4)
5. After assuming the birth of Imam Mahdi in the year 1964 or 1965 CE, by adding forty years the year 2004 CE has' been arrived at. Now the question arises that on what basis was the calculation carried out using solar years? If the forty year addition was done due to a narration, then it would mean forty lunar years. In that case the result of 2004CE doesn't fit.
6. Assuming the year 1964 or 1965 CE being the year of his birth, Mahdi's appearance in 2004 CE is. based on him being 40 Years of age at the time of appearance, and generally this is what is written in books too, that at the time of appearance Imam Mahdi will be 40 years of age. But according to the Muhaqqiqeen no such narration exists, wherein this age is clearly defined for the time of his appearance. Thus from this angle too the year 2004 CE being the year of his appearance comes into question.
In summery, the fixing of the year 2004 CE as the year of Mahdi's appearance is without any dependable evidence. That is why it is in no way correct to propagate that Mahdi will appear in the coming year.
In such propagating one harm that resulted is that this year quite a few people on whom Hajj was compulsory did not go, saying that Mahdi will appear the following year so we will go to Hajj the. What guarantee do we have that we will remain alive to see the next year. Also according to most of the scholars to delay compulsory Hajj without a valid reason makes a person a sinner.
The second harm in spreading news like this is that if Imam Mahdi does not appear next year, then people of different ideologies may needlessly get something to criticise our pious elders over and there may be those of our ideology who are far from Deen who will start having reservations regarding our pious elders. All this and it is possible - more than possible that attributing these sayings to our pious elders is incorrect in the first place.
Publicising is unwise for this reason also that assuming Mahdi is going to appear in the year 2004 CE or any other fixed year, there is still no need to inform people or start a movement related to this. People will
automatically recognise him from those signs that are mentioned by the Prophet(sallahu alayhi waalahi wasalam) in the authentic Ahadeeth
'The true Mahdi is not in need of anyone calling to him, Allah it will reveal him to mankind when He wishes and they will recognise him by signs that will attest to him.' (Ashratus Sa'ah, page 28)
Our duty is to prepare for the Hereafter, to rectify our deeds and to save ourselves from preoccupation with our desires and pleasures of the nafs. When will Mahdi appear? When will 'Eesa(as) come down? When will Qiyamah occur? To discuss these matters cannot be the work of an intelligent person. The jurist of this era, Mufti Rasheed Ahmad(ra) says:
'There are some people who are always searching to find out when Qiyamah will take place. This is vain and making such attempts is pointless. Instead one should strive for our real purpose i.e. preparing for the Hereafter.
A Bedouin once asked the Prophet(that when will Qiyamah come? The prophet(sallahu alayhi waalahi wasalam) replied: 'What preparations have you made for it?' (Bukhari, Muslim)
Warning has also been given in the Qur'an:
'They ask you (O Muhammad (sallahu alayhi waalahi wasalam) about the Hour - when will its appointed time be? You have no knowledge to say anything about it. To your Lord belongs (the knowledge of) the term thereof. You (O Muhammad (sallahu alayhi waalahi wasalam) are but a Warner for those who fear it.' (79:42-45)
"Have concern for the Hereafter, keep fearing it, make preparation - don't ask when will Qiyamah come?" (Jawahire Rasheed page 11-12, volume 3)
May Allah if grant us all the ability to perform good deeds keeping the purpose of our lives in mind. Ameen.
Hadhrat Maulana Mufti Umar Faruq Desai Luharvi
Shaykh-ul-Hadeeth Darul uloom London