One of society’s problems prior to the advent of the Imam of the Time (‘atfs) will be the deterioration of health conditions and the inefficiency of treatment measures, which as a result, will lead to the spread of contagious diseases and sudden death throughout the world.
The spread of ailments such as leprosy, plague, paralysis, blindness, heart failure, and hundreds of others will be so threatening to the lives of people that it would seem as if everyone was waiting for certain death without any hope for a longer life. When they go to bed at night, there would be no hope for them to wake up and survive the following day, and if they were going outside, there would be no hope for their return.
These heartrending and painful circumstances will arise as effects of environmental pollution and as a consequence of the use of chemical, nuclear and biological weapons. The increase in the number of the dead as well as their not being buried and their decay will be factors for the outbreak of those diseases, or as a result of other psychological and emotional diseases that will occur out of hopelessness and the loss of loved ones. The causes of all these things might however be due to other factors of which we are unaware.
The government of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) in such a state of affairs will be the light of hope in the hearts of the calamity-smitten and afflicted people of that time for the elimination of such conditions and the restoration of health to human society. This is exactly what the government of the Imam of the Time (‘a) will do.
We shall mention here some hadiths regarding the condition of health and medical treatment prior to the Imam’s advent. Then, we shall examine some hadiths about the efforts of Hadrat Hujjah (‘atfs) in safeguarding society’s health and medical services:
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Among the signs of the approach of the Day of Resurrection is that a man will die without pain or ailments.”1
In another hadith, he (S) said: “During the approach of Qiyamah, there will be excessive and successive sa‘iqahs (thunder and lightning that would ignite fires and cause burning) so much so that when a person is in the company of his relatives or a group, he will ask, ‘Yesterday, who among you was struck by lightning and was burned?’ It will be answered: “So and so…”2
Sa‘iqah means unconsciousness or the loss of intellect from hearing a frightening sound. It also means catching fire or burning. Therefore, a person who is afflicted with sa‘iqah either loses his intellect, or is burned from the effect of its fire3 and turned into ashes.
Of course, it is possible for sa‘iqah to be the result of the explosion of advanced weapons at that time which will burn and have a frightening sound such that anyone near them will turn into ashes. The effect they will have on human beings will not be anything but diseases; these three ailments and calamities can only be caused by destructive weapons.
The Messenger of Allah (S) said in another hadith: “During the approach of Qiyamah and Resurrection, there will be innumerable deaths and afterward will be years of many earthquakes.”4
In this regard, the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “Prior to the advent of al-Qa’im (‘atfs), two types of death will become rampant, i.e. the “red death” and the “white death”, which is actually the spread of epidemics.”5
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “Among the signs of Qiyamah and Resurrection is the spread of paralysis and sudden death.”6
Imam al-Kazim (‘a) quoted the Prophet (S) as saying: “The occurrence of sudden death, leprosy and hemorrhoids would be among the signs of the approach of Qiyamah and Resurrection.”7
It has been stated in Bayan al-A’immah, thus: “Among the signs of the approach of al-Mahdi’s advent is the spread of cholera and plague throughout the world especially in Baghdad and its neighboring cities as a result of which many people will die.”8
Astounding quantum leaps in science, medical science in particular, would be achieved during the rule of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) and it will be utilized for the improvement of health in society. Other factors contributing to the improvement of health in society would be extinguishing the flames of war; peace of mind; the preservation of mental health with the reformation of mankind; and the blossoming of agriculture and animal husbandry providing proper nourishment for people.
Thus, the state of public health during the period of the Imam of the Age (‘atfs) will attain its highest and ideal level. It will be such that the physical condition of the people will change and their lifespans will become so much longer that sometimes a person would see his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren before departing from this world.
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “The day after Isa (‘a) comes down from heaven and kills ad-Dajjal, the sun will rise in the west (and not in the east) and for forty years you will live prosperously and comfortably during which no one will die or get sick.”9
Maybe what is meant by this statement is that death and sickness, which would have been widespread prior to the Imam’s advent, will become insignificant and trivial during the period of the Imam. The literal meaning might also be true, i.e. during that particular period, there will be no death and sickness owing to the blessed presence of Hadrat Baqiyyatullah al-A‘zam (‘atfs).
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “During the rule of al-Mahdi (‘atfs)… lifespans will be long.”10
Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar said: “Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: ‘When our Qa’im rises up… the people under the aegis of his rule will have long lifespans to the extent that for every person a thousand children will be born’.”11
In this regard, Imam as-Sajjad (‘a) said: “When our Qa’im rises up, God, the Honorable and Glorious, will keep our Shi‘ah away from ailments and calamities, and make their hearts like solid iron and the strength of each of them to be equal to that of forty men. They will be rulers on the earth and its leading figures.”12
Concerning the healthy condition of the environment during the rule of the Imam of the Time (‘atfs), Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “When our Qa’im rises up… septic tanks and drainpipes along roads will be removed.”13
Maintaining health in cities and in the social environment is one of the responsibilities of a government. As such, every factor that might threaten the healthy condition of the environment must be prevented.
Dumping of domestic waste on the streets and constructing cess pits outside the house—as is the case in some deprived cities and villages—are detrimental to the healthy condition of the environment. So, we can see that one of the jobs to be undertaken by Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) is to prevent any violation of health regulations.
Since health conditions will reach their ideal levels during the period of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs), diseases will decrease; only a few individuals will be afflicted with sickness. Medical science will also reach its height and diverse sicknesses will be cured within a very short period of time. In addition to that, with the help of God, the Imam (‘atfs) himself will cure the incurable. In fact, it can be said that no ailment would be found during the rule of the Imam (‘atfs).
Regarding the government of al-Mahdi (‘atfs), Imam al-Husayn (‘a) said: “No blind, paralytic or sick people will remain on the surface of the earth without being cured by God.”14
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “…Then, our Qa’im who would then be in the state of occultation, will appear with Jibra’il before him and the Book of God behind him. He will cure those who would be suffering from vitiligo and leprosy.”15
It can be inferred from this hadith that Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) himself will play a key role in curing incurable diseases.
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “When our Qa’im rises up, God will keep the believers away from diseases and restore them to health.”16
In this regard, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “Anyone who happens to see the Qa’im from among us, the Ahl al-Bayt, will be cured if he had an ailment, and if he suffered from weakness, he will become strong and energetic.”17
It has thus been stated in Shaykh as-Saduq’s Khisal: “During the time of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs), diseases will be cured and they (the faithful) will become like pieces of iron.”18