Administering a territory as wide as the world itself is a difficult task, which is only possible for a divinely guided leader and functionaries committed to this divine system and the sovereignty of Islam. Indeed, in order to administer lands and territories Imam al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will appoint ministers who will have had a record of struggle both in experience and action, and who will have shown their firmness and decisiveness.
Governors with strong personalities, who think of nothing but the welfare of the Islamic state and the pleasure of God, will take charge of state affairs. Obviously, a country whose officials possess these qualities will prevail over any difficulty. The destructions wrought by the previous governments will successfully turn into progress and conditions will be so transformed that the living will wish that the dead would live once again.
It must be noted that Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will take charge of affairs at the time when the world will have inherited a plethora of confusions and disorders, and there will be millions of invalids as well as physically and mentally sick individuals. An atmosphere of delapidation will cast its shadow upon the world and insecurity will become prevalent everywhere. Cities will be in total ruin on account of wars and conflicts, and the decline of farming due to pollution of the ecosystem will lead to the scarcity of food.
On the other hand, the people of the world would have witnessed that many governments, parties and organizations had claimed that if they were given the chance to take charge of things, they could serve the world and its inhabitants, ensuring peace, security and improvement in economic conditions. In action, however, each of them would have been worse than the other, introducing nothing but corruption, killing and ruin.
Leninism collapsed while Maoism was disfavored by its own leaders, and Western democracy, on the other hand, is nothing more than a people-deceiving slogan.
The time will finally come when justice and equity would be implemented by the able hand of the man of God on the earth full of tyranny.1 He will be so serious and decisive in actualizing the slogan that “He will fill the world with justice and equity”—that its effect would be felt everywhere.
Imam al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will administer the government and nurture the people in such a manner that the word “tyranny” will no longer hold a place in one’s mind, and according to the hadiths no person will oppress another anymore; even animals will also cease harming and oppressing others to the extent that the sheep and the wolf will mingle with each other.
Umm Salmah reported that the Prophet (S) said: “The Mahdi (‘atfs) will institute justice in society to the extent that the living will wish that their dead would live again in order to partake in reaping the fruits of justice.”2
Commenting on the noble verse (ayah),
“Know that Allah revives the earth after its death,”3
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “God will revive the earth through Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs). He will behave justly on earth and with the spread of justice the earth will be revived after its death from rampant tyranny.”4
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) also said: “By God! Certainly, the justice of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will penetrate their houses and rooms just as heat and cold penetrate therein.”5
It can be inferred from this hadith that notwithstanding the desire of certain groups of people and even their opposition, justice will encompass the entire world without any exception.
On the exegesis of the noble Qur’anic verse (ayah),
﴿ الَّذِينَ إِن مَّكَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ ﴾
“Those who, if We granted them power in the land, maintain the prayer, give the zakat,”6
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “This verse has been revealed concerning the station of al-Mahdi and his supporters. Through them God will manifest His religion and make it so dominant that no trace of tyranny and innovation (bid‘ah) could be seen.”7
In this regard, Imam ar-Rida (‘a) said: “During the advent of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs), he will establish the scale of justice in society and from then on, no one will oppress anyone anymore.”8
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) also said: “The Imam (‘atfs) will behave justly with peasants and the people.”9
Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah al-Ansari said: “A person came to Imam al-Baqir (‘a) and asked: ‘Take this five hundred dirham zakat on my properties!’ The Imam (‘a) said: ‘Keep it and give it to your neighbors yourself, and the indigent and needy Muslims.’ Then, he said: ‘During the uprising of the Qa’im from among us, the Ahl al-Bayt, he will distribute property evenly and he will behave justly with them (people). Thus, anyone who follows him will actually be following God and anyone who disobeys him will actually be disobeying God. In view of this, he will be called the Mahdi (the Guided One) as he has guidance with respect to hidden affairs and issues.”10
Justice at the time of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will be so pervasive that even religious priorities will be observed. By utilizing the facilities intended for them, those who want to perform their religious obligations will have priority over those who are at the threshold of doing optional acts of worship. For example, during the time of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs) when Islam and the divine government are established in the entire world, it would be natural for religious rites to be held in a splendorous and indescribable manner.
Due to the spread of the Islamic government, there will be no more obstacles obstructing the performance of the Abrahamic Hajj, which is one of the religious rites. In performing the Hajj the people will be like a torrential flood rushing toward the Ka‘bah. As a result, the area surrounding the Ka‘bah will be overcrowded and it would not be able to accommodate all the pilgrims.
The Imam (‘atfs) will issue an order for priority to be given to those who are performing the obligatory Hajj. In the words of Imam as-Sadiq (‘a), that will be the first manifestation of justice of the Promised Mahdi (‘atfs).
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “The first thing to be manifested of the justice of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘a) is that he will announce that those who are performing the optional Hajj or rituals, kissing the Hajar al-Aswad,11 and doing optional tawaf12 would have to offer the same opportunities to those who would be performing the obligatory Hajj.”13
Naturally, the government, which in a short period of time would prevail over adversities, eliminate confusion and disorder, and sow the seeds of hope in the hearts of mankind by removing despair from them, will enjoy popular support.
The system, which could extinguish the fires of war and restore order and security in society to the extent that even animals would benefit from it, will be the government over hearts. The aspiration of mankind is to live under such a government. As such, in the hadiths the people’s adherence to the Imam and their attachment to his government have been mentioned in glowing terms.
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “I give you glad tidings of al-Mahdi, a man from the Quraysh with whose caliphate and rule the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth will be pleased.”14
The Prophet (S) also said: “A man from my ummah will rise up whom the people of the earth and heavens will love.”15
Sabah said: “During the time of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) young people will wish to be old enough while old people will wish that they were still small and young.”16
Maybe the old would wish that they were still small and young because they would like to spend more time under his government while the youth would wish to be old enough because they want to be responsible enough to play a role in the implementation of the programs of the divine government of Hadrat Wali al-‘Asr (‘atfs), and thus, acquire spiritual reward in the hereafter.
The government of the Imam (‘atfs) will have such an impact that even the dead will benefit from it.
In this regard, Hadrat ‘Ali (‘a) said: “A man from my progeny will come, as a result of whose advent and government, no dead person would remain in the grave without having received relief and blessings there, and they will visit and give the glad tidings of his uprising to one another.”17
In Kamil az-Ziyarat,18 “al-farahah” has been interpreted as “rejoicing” and “delight” and the use of the word “mayyit” (dead) in the hadith deserves close attention because it can be concluded that this relief and comfort is universal and not confined to a particular group of souls. If we put this hadith beside those that state, “The souls of the infidels will be in the worse state of enchainment and captivity,” its meaning will be made clear; for, it is said that with the advent of the Imam, the order for their release from chastisement will be given, or the state of “the absence of relief and mercy in the treatment by the chastising angels” will be changed for a certain period, however short will it be, as a token of respect for the establishment of the divine government on earth. Within that short period, the chastising angels will desist from punishing the souls of the infidels and hypocrites.
Abu Basir reports: “Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: ‘O Abu Muhammad! It is as if I can see the Qa’im of Muhammad’s Progeny along with his family descending upon the Sahlah Mosque.’ I asked: ‘Is the Sahlah Mosque his residence?’
He replied: ‘Yes; right there in the residence of Prophet Idris (Enoch) (‘a), and no prophet has been appointed without having performed prayer there. Anyone who stays there is like one who had been in the camp of the Messenger of Allah (S). There is no faithful man or woman whose heart is not favorably disposed toward that mosque. Every day and night, angels of the Divine seek refuge in that mosque to worship God. O Abu Muhammad! If I were only near you, I would perform my prayers only in that mosque.’
“‘During the uprising of our Qa’im, God will take revenge on behalf of His Messenger and all of us upon the enemies’.”19
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) mentioned Sahlah Mosque and said: “That is the house of our Sahib (Hadrat al-Mahdi); there will be a time when he will stay there with his family.”20
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “The Mahdi (‘atfs) will rise up; he will go to Kufah and reside there.”21
The same Imam (‘a) also said: “When our Qa’im rises up and goes to Kufah, there will be no believer who would not take residence there with al-Mahdi (‘atfs) or visit that city.”22
In this regard, Hadrat Amir (Imam ‘Ali) (‘a) said: “A time will come when al-Mahdi’s (‘atfs) place for prayers will be here (Kufah Mosque).”23
Abubakr Hadrami said: “I asked Imam al-Baqir (‘a) or Imam as-Sadiq (‘a): ‘Which land is more sacred after the House of God (in Mecca) and the Mosque of the Prophet (in Medina)?’ He replied: ‘O Abubakr! The land of Kufah is a sacred place, where the Sahlah Mosque is found, a mosque where all the prophets have prayed; from there divine justice will be established, and the Qa’im of God and those who rise up after him will be from there. There is the place of the prophets and their righteous successors’.”24
Muhammad ibn Fadil said: “The Day of Resurrection will not come to pass unless all the believers gather in Kufah.”25
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will rule for nine or ten years and the most fortunate people with respect to him are the people of Kufah.”26
It can be deduced from this set of hadiths that the city of Kufah would be the epicenter of activities and the political capital of the Imam of the Time (‘atfs).
It would be only natural for the administrative workers and officials in the government which Imam al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will lead to be the leading figures and best of the ummah. As such, we can observe in the hadiths that the government of Imam al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will be comprised of prophets and their successors, the most pious and righteous people of that time as well as of times past, and the towering personalities among the companions of the Prophet (S).
Some of them are Hadrat ‘Isa (‘a), the seven Companions of the Cave (ashab al-kahf), Yusha‘ (Joshuah), the executor of will (wasiyy) of Musa (‘a), the believer in the family of Pharaoh, Salman al-Farsi, Abu ad-Dujanah al-Ansari, Malik al-Ashtar an-Nakha‘i, and the tribe of Hamdan.
Hadrat ‘Isa (‘a) has been mentioned in the hadiths under various titles such as minister, successor, commander, and government official.
‘Isa (‘a) will say to Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs): “Verily, I have been sent as a minister and not as chief (amir) or ruler.”27
“Hadrat ‘Isa (‘a) will be a minister of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs) as well as his doorkeeper and successor.”28
“…Then ‘Isa will come down and he will be responsible in collecting the properties of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs). The Companions of the Cave will also be behind him.”29
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “When Hadrat al-Qa’im of the Progeny of Muhammad (‘a) rises up, he will revive eighteen persons behind the Ka‘bah; they include the five persons from the community (qawm) of Musa (‘a) who will judge correctly and behave justly; the seven Companions of the Cave; Yusha‘ the wasiyy of Musa; the believer in the family of Pharaoh; Salman al-Farsi; Abu Dujanah al-Ansari; and Malik al-Ashtar.”30
In this regard, it is also stated: “Men of God will accompany the Mahdi (‘atfs)—men who will respond to his call and support him. They will be his ministers and statesmen who will shoulder the heavy responsibilities of the government.”35
‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas said: “The Companions of the Cave will be supporters of the Mahdi.”36
Halabi said: “All the Companions of the Cave are of the Arab race and they speak in no language other than Arabic. They will be among the ministers of the Mahdi.”37
From the aforementioned hadiths and statements, we can conclude that the heavy burden of governing and administering the vast Islamic territories cannot be shouldered by just anybody; instead, individuals, who have been tested on many occasions and have proven their merit in various trials, must accept this responsibility.
Therefore, we can see that the head of the ministers in the government of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) is Hadrat ‘Isa (‘a) who is one of the leading prophets (ulu’l-‘azm). Similarly, among the outstanding officials of his government will be Salman al-Farsi, Miqdad, Abu Dujanah, and Malik al-Ashtar, who had shown their merit in handling affairs during both the time of the Prophet (S) and that of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a), as well as the tribe of Hamdan. All of them have embellished the pages of the early history of Islam and during the rule of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (‘a).
Regarding the period of rule of al-Mahdi (‘atfs), there are various hadiths existing in both Sunni and Shi‘ah sources. Some hadiths limit the period of Imam al-Mahdi’s (‘atfs) rule to seven years. Others mention eight, nine, ten, or twenty years while there are even hadiths that say one thousand years. What is certain is that the government of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will not be less than seven years, and this period has been emphasized in some hadiths reported from the Imams (‘a).
Perhaps it can be said that the period of rule would be seven years, but the length of a year at that time will be different from ours, as indicated in some hadiths such as the following:
“His rule will be seven years and each year is equivalent to ten of your years. Therefore, the years of his rule will be equivalent to your seventy years.”38
Imam ‘Ali (‘a) said: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will rule for seven years; every year in that time will be equal to ten years of yours.”39
The Holy Messenger of Allah (S) said: “The Mahdi (‘atfs) is from us… and for seven years he will take charge of affairs.”40
The Prophet (S) also said: “He will rule for seven years over this ummah.”41
The Messenger of Allah (S) also said elsewhere: “The tenure of rule of al-Mahdi (S) will be seven years at the shortest or it will last for eight or nine years at the longest.”42 It has also been reported: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will rule in this world for nine years.”43
Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah al-Ansari asked Imam al-Baqir (‘a): “How many years will the Imam of the Time (‘atfs) live?” The Imam (‘a) replied: “From the day of the uprising till his demise will be nineteen years long.”44
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will rule for twenty years. He will take out the treasures from the ground; he will conquer the lands of polytheism.”45
In answer to the question on how many years the Mahdi (‘atfs) will rule, Hadrat ‘Ali (‘a) said: “He will rule over the people for thirty or forty years.”48
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will be from my progeny and his age will be equal to that of Ibrahim Khalil ar-Rahman (Prophet Abraham) (‘a). He will appear at the age of eighty years and rule for forty years.”49
The same Imam (‘a) also said: “The tenure of Hadrat al-Qa’im’s (‘atfs) rule will be nineteen years and some months.”50
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs) will rule for three hundred and nine years just as the Companions of the Cave stayed in the cave for the same period.”51
The late Majlisi said: “The hadiths regarding the Imam’s (‘atfs) period of rule must be explained under the following probabilities: Some hadiths refer to the entire period of rule while some others point to the period of stabilization and establishment. Some are based on the years and days that we are acquainted with while others are based on the years and days in the time of the Imam (‘atfs) which are long. God knows best the truth of the matter.”52
After mentioning the hadiths, the late Ayatullah Tabasi, my honorable father, gives preference to the hadith that propounds seven years, but he says: “It means that by the power of God, every year at that time will be equal to ten of our years.”53