Since the objective behind the uprising of Hadrat al-Mahdi is the establishment of divine government throughout the world and the elimination of tyranny and tyrants, it is natural that the Imam will face many difficulties and obstacles in realizing this objective.
By conducting military operations, he has to remove those hurdles along the way and overrun one country after another so as to prevail in the east and west of the world and establish the government of divine justice on earth. In this chapter we shall draw your attention to the hadiths related to this.
Since the objective behind the wars at the time of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘a) is the annihilation of corruption and tyranny for the formation of worldwide Islamic government, participation in the war on the side of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs) also has multiple rewards so much so that if a combatant eliminates one person from the enemy, his reward would be that of twenty or twenty five martyrs (shuhada’). If he attained martyrdom, he will have the reward of two martyrs. Similarly, the disabled and wounded veterans will have special value in the government of the Imam of the Time in addition to their spiritual station. The families of martyrs will have also special value.
While addressing the Shi‘ah, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “If you would be as we have enjoined and you would not go against our commands—if in such a condition one of you would die prior to the advent of our Qa’im—he will be a martyr, and if he perceive the Imam and attained martyrdom on his side, he will have the reward of two martyrs, and if he slew one of our enemies, he would have the reward of twenty martyrs.”1
In this hadith, the value of eliminating an enemy is regarded as much higher than attaining martyrdom because killing the enemy brings about the pleasure of God, relief of the servants of God and honor for Islam whereas in earning the grace of martyrdom, the martyr merely attains perfection. Therefore, combatants in the warfront have to think more about the enemy than about attaining martyrdom.
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “Martyrdom on the side of the Imam of the Time (‘atfs) has the reward of two martyrs.”2
It is thus stated in Al-Kafi: “If a soldier of the Imam kills one of our enemies, he shall have the reward of twenty martyrs and anyone who attains martyrdom on the side of our Qa’im, the reward of twenty five martyrs shall be his.”3
Regarding the way the Imam of the Time (‘atfs) would behave with the martyrs and their families, the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “(After the operations, Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘a)) will proceed to Kufah and stay there… And there will be no martyr whose debts will not be paid by the Imam, and he will give stipends and remuneration to his family.”4
This hadith bespeaks of the Imam’s attention to be paid to the families of martyrs.
The type of weapons that Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘a) will use in the conflicts would be fundamentally different from that of other weapons at that time. The word “sayf” (sword) mentioned in the hadiths might allude to a particular weapon and not refer to a particular sword. This is because the weapon of the Imam is one which when used will make the walls of cities crumble to pieces and make a pulverized city turn into mere smoke. By only a single blow, the enemy will melt like salt or heated lead.
Based on a hadith, the weapons of the Imam’s soldiers are made of iron but they are such that if they fell on a mountain, the latter will be divided into two.
Perhaps, the enemy will also use incendiary weapons because the Imam (‘a) will wear an anti-heat garment. It is the same garment from heaven that Jibra’il (Archangel Gabriel) (‘a) brought to Ibrahim (Prophet Abraham) (‘a) for him not to die in the fire of Namrud (Nimrod) and thus be saved. That garment will be at the disposal of Hadrat Baqiyyatullah (‘atfs), and if it were not the case—that is, if advanced weapons and industry were not at the disposal of the enemy—maybe there would be no need for the Imam to wear such a garment. It is also possible that it hints that there is a miraculous aspect to it.
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “When our Qa’im stages the uprising, the swords of combat will descend—on each of which the name and father’s name of each of the combatants will be written.”5
Regarding a group of supporters of al-Mahdi (‘atfs), Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “The supporters of al-Mahdi (‘a) have swords made of iron, but this is different from common iron. If one of them would strike a mountain with his sword, the mountain will be divided into two. With such soldiers and equipment, Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs) will wage war on India, Daylam, Kurdistan,6 Rome,7 the Berbers, Fars, and between Jabarsa and Jabalqa.”8
The means of defense possessed by the forces of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will be such that the weapons of the enemy will be rendered useless (and harmless) against them. In this regard, Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “If the supporters of al-Mahdi (‘a) encountered an army stretching from east to west, they would be able to crush them in a moment, and the weapons of the enemy would never have any effect upon them.”9
There are two sets of hadiths concerning the military operations of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) and the conquest of cities and countries. Some hadiths have made mention of the conquest of the east and west, the south and the Qiblah, and finally the entire world while others indicate the conquest of particular portions of the world.
There is no doubt that the Imam (‘atfs) will dominate and rule over the entire world. But the reason why some cities have been mentioned is probably on account of the importance they will have at that time.
This importance might be due to the fact that they will be centers of power in those days and will have control over some parts of the world. It is also possible that those lands would be vast in which the bulk of the world’s population are concentrated, or that they are the center of the hopes and aspirations of particular sects and religions so much so that if such a city fell, all the followers of a certain belief system would surrender. It could also be because of their military and strategic importance such that their fall would result in the failure of enemy operations and pave the way for the offensive operations of the forces of the Imam (‘a).
The selection of Mecca as the point of origin of the uprising and then the selection of Iraq, the city of Kufah in particular, as the military-political capital of the government, the march toward Sham (Syria) and the conquest of Bayt al-Muqaddas emphasize this point. This is because today, the political, religious and military importance of these three places is proverbial to all.
The first set of hadiths concern the Imam’s dominance over the entire world, some of which are as follows:
Hadrat ar-Rida (‘a) reported from his forefathers that the Messenger of Allah said: “When they took me on the ascension (mi‘raj)… I asked: ‘O God! Will they (Imams) be my successors after me?’
The voice replied: ‘O Muhammad! Yes, they are My friends, chosen ones, and proofs after you for My servants, and they will be the successors and best servants (of God) after you. By My Honor and Glory! Through them I will let My religion and creed prevail among mankind, and exalt My word (kalimah) through them. Through the last of them, I will purge the world of the existence of rebellious people and sinners, and I will grant him sovereignty over the east and west.”10
On the exegesis of the noble Qur’anic verse (ayah),
“Those who, if We granted them power in the land, maintain the prayer, give the zakat,”11
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “This verse is related to the Progeny of Muhammad (‘a) and the Last Imam. God will grant Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) and his supporters control and influence over the east and west of the world.”12
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “The Mahdi is from my progeny and through him God will conquer the east and west.”13
The Messenger of Allah (S) also said: “At the time of the advent of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs), God will let religion return to its original state, and he will attain glorious victories for Him and through Him. At that time, no one will remain on earth except the Muslims who recite the formula of faith, “La ilaha illallah” (There is no god worthy to be worshipped but Allah).”14
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “Hadrat al-Qa’im is from us and his rule will extend from the east to the west.”15
The same Imam also said: “At the time of the uprising of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs), God will make Islam prevail over all other religions.”16
The Prophet is reported to have said: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will dispatch his soldiers to the entire world.”17
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “If only one day is left in the life of this world... God will send al-Mahdi (‘atfs) and through him the religion will regain its grandeur and through him and for Him, glorious victories will be attained. At that time, no one will remain on earth except the Muslims who recite the formula of faith, “La ilaha illallah” (There is no god worthy to be worshipped but Allah).”18
Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah al-Ansari quotes the Messenger of Allah (S) as saying: “Dhu’l-Qarnayn was a meritorious servant that God appointed as a proof for His other servants. He invited his community (qawm) toward God and enjoined piety, but they struck a blow on his head and he hid from them for so long that they imagined him to be dead. After sometime, he returned to his community, but they struck him another blow on the other side of his head.
“There is a person from among you who will behave according to the Sunnah. God, the Honorable and Glorious, gave Dhu’l-Qarnayn authority on earth, put everything at his disposal, and made him reach the east and west of the globe. God, the Exalted, will make his character and manner be adopted by the Hidden Imam (imam al-gha’ib) who is from my progeny, and make him reach the eastern and western lands.
No pond and house whether on the top of a mountain or in the desert that was visited by Dhu’l-Qarnayn will remain unvisited by him (Imam al-Mahdi). God will manifest the treasures and minerals of the earth for him, help him by striking fear in the heart of the enemy, and fill the earth with justice and equity as it would have been full of injustice and oppression prior to the uprising.”19
Another set of hadiths points to the conquest of certain cities. It would suffice to quote a few hadiths in this respect:
Concerning the march of al-Mahdi (‘a) toward Sham (Syria), the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “At the order of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs), transportation of the armies will be organized. After this order, four hundred ships will be constructed and berthed along the shore of Acre.20 Rome (or Constantinople) with one hundred crosses—along with each cross being ten thousand forces—will emerge and overrun Tarsus.21
The Imam along with his soldiers will arrive there and kill so many of them that the water of the Euphrates will change its color and due to their corpses, the shore will emit a fetid smell. (On hearing this news,) those remaining in Rome (or Constantinople) will flee to Antioch22.”23
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “When Hadrat al-Qa’im stages the uprising… he will dispatch soldiers to the city of Constantinople. When they reach the gulf, they will write a sentence on their feet and pass over the water.”24
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “If only one day is left in the world, God will surely send a man from my progeny who is my namesake and whose forehead is radiant. He will conquer Constantinople and Jabal Daylam (Mountain of Daylam).”25
Hudhayfah said: “Constantinople, Daylam and Tabaristan will not be conquered except by a man from Bani Hashim.”26
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) and his supporters will advance until they enter Constantinople. They will go to the place where the king resides and they will take out three types of treasure: jewelry, gold and silver. Then, the Imam will divide the assets and booty among his armies.”29
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘a) will prepare three banners for (operations in) three regions. He will dispatch a banner to Constantinople30 and God will open it for him (i.e., he will conquer it); he will send another banner to China and it will also be opened for him, and he will send the third banner for the mountains of Daylam,31 which will be overrun by his forces.”32
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “…Then, with a thousand ships Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will leave the city of Qati‘ for the holy city of Quds, and from Acre, Tyre, Gaza, and ‘Asqalan35 he will enter the Land of Palestine. He will take out its wealth and booty. Thereafter, Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will enter Quds ash-Sharif where he will dismount and stay until the coming out of ad-Dajjal (the Anti-Christ).”36
Abu Hamzah ath-Thumali said: “I heard Imam al-Baqir (‘a) saying: ‘At the time of the advent of the Qa’im of Muhammad’s Progeny (‘a), he will have a sword with him, which he will unsheathe, and through him God will conquer the lands of Rome,37 China, Turkistan,38 Daylam, Sind, Hind,39 Kabul, Sham, and Khazar.”40
Ibn Hajar writes: “…The first banner that Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will prepare for war would be dispatched to the Turks.”41
Perhaps, what is meant by the sword mentioned in the hadith reported by ath-Thumali (as-sayf al-mukhtarit) alludes to a particular weapon at the disposal of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs). It is because in order to conquer all these lands, which requires extraordinary offensive capability, an appropriate weapon, superior to all weapons would be necessary especially if we would say that the Imam will perform various activities through natural and common ways.
Regarding the conquest of Hind, Ka‘b said: “The ruler in Bayt al-Muqaddas will dispatch an army to Hind and conquer it. Then that army will enter the territory of Hind and it will send the treasures there to the ruler of Bayt al-Muqaddas. He will also embellish it (Hind) and the kings of Hind will be brought to him as captives. The eastern and western lands will be opened for them and the forces will be present in Hind till the emergence of ad-Dajjal.”42
Hudhayfah reported that the Prophet (S) said: “Tahir ibn Asma’ fought with the Children of Israel and took them in captivity, setting Bayt al-Muqaddas on fire while taking the amount of one thousand and seven (or nine) hundred ships of gold and jewelry from there to the city of Rome. Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will definitely take them out from that city and return them to Bayt al-Muqaddas.”43
Although the uprising of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will commence in Mecca, he will conquer the land of Hijaz44 after the advent. In this regard, Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will appear in Mecca and God will conquer the land of Hijaz and the Imam will set free anyone from the Bani Hashim who is in prison.”45
Concerning the conquest of Khurasan, the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will continue in his advance until he conquers Khurasan46 and then he will again return to the city of Medina.”47
Regarding the conquest of Armenia48 at the hand of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs), the same Imam (‘a) said: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will continue in his advance till he arrives in Armenia. When the people of that land see him, they will send one of their erudite priests to negotiate with him (‘atfs).
The priest will ask the Imam (‘atfs): ‘Are you the Mahdi?’ The Imam will reply: ‘Yes, I am; the one whose name has been mentioned in the Evangel (Gospel) and the glad tidings of my advent at the end of time has been given.’ He will pose some questions and the Imam will answer (each of them satisfactorily).
“The Christian priest will embrace Islam but the people in Armenia will be defiant and disobey. Thereafter, the soldiers of the Imam will enter the city and exterminate five hundred thousand men from the Christian forces. By His infinite power, God will suspend their city between heaven and earth so much so that the king and those around him who will be stationed outside the city will see the city being suspended there.
“Out of fear, the king of Armenia will flee and will also order those around him to seek refuge in a certain sanctuary. Along the way, a lion will pass close to them and being terrified, they will throw away and abandon the weapons and possessions at their disposal. The soldiers of the Imam who will be pursuing them will take the properties and divide them among themselves such that each one of them will receive one hundred thousand dinars.”49
Another part of the Imam’s (‘atfs) global conquest will be in the cities of Zanj. Hadrat Amir (Imam Ali) (‘a) said in this regard: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will continue in his advance until he arrives at the city of Zanj al-Kubra. There are one thousand markets in the city and in each of the markets, there are one thousand shops. The Imam will conquer that city.50 After its conquest, the Imam will go to a city called Qati‘, which is an island on the sea.”51
Regarding the dispatching of al-Mahdi’s (‘atfs) soldiers throughout the world, Hadrat al-Baqir (‘a) said: “It is as if I can see Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs) dispatching his armies throughout the globe.”52
The same Imam (‘a) also said: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (a’tfs) will send his armies throughout the world to solicit the pledge of allegiance (bay‘ah), and annihilate tyranny and tyrants. The conquered cities will be stabilized for him, and through his blessed hand, God will conquer Constantinople.”53
After the advent of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) and the conquest of various cities and countries, some cities and tribes will mount resistance to the Imam (‘atfs), which will be suppressed by his forces. A deviant group will not accept the view of the Imam on some issues and launch an insurrection against him, which will be also defeated by his forces. Let us look at some hadiths pertaining to this:
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “There are thirteen cities and clans whose people will wage war against Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs) and the Imam, in turn, will confront them. They are the people of Mecca, Medina, Sham (Syria), Basrah, and Rey; the Bani ‘Umayyah, Damansiyan, Kurds, and Arabs such as the Bani Ḍabbah,54 Ghani,55 Bahilah,56 and Azd.”57
Concerning the opposition of a group to the words of al-Mahdi (‘atfs), Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “When Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) would elaborate on some of the laws and talk about some parts of the Sunnah, in opposing the Imam, a group will go out of the mosque as a gesture of protest. The Imam will order his followers to pursue them.
The army of the Imam will catch them up in the Tamarin district; they will capture them and bring them to him. The Imam (‘atfs) will give the order for all of them to be beheaded. This will be the last revolt and movement to emerge against the Imam.”58
Regarding the revolt in Ramaylah and its suppression, Ibn Abi Ya‘fur said: “I came to Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) while a group of his followers was in his company. The Imam said to me: ‘Have you read the Qur’an?’ I replied: ‘Yes, but only a normal reading.’ He said: ‘My point was that very (normal) reading.’ I said: ‘What is meant by this question?’ He said: ‘Hadrat Musa (‘a) said something to his community (qawm) but they could not endure it, and they rose up against him in Egypt. Musa also fought against them and killed them.
“Hadrat ‘Isa (‘a) also said something to his community but they could not tolerate it also, and they also rose up against him in the city of Takrit. ‘Isa (‘a) also confronted them and eliminated them. This is the meaning of the words of God when He says:
﴿ فَآَمَنَت طَّائِفَةٌ مِّن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ وَكَفَرَت طَّائِفَةٌ فَأَيَّدْنَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا عَلَى عَدُوِّهِمْ فَأَصْبَحُوا ظَاهِرِينَ ﴾
“So a group of the Children of Israel believed, and a group disbelieved. Then We strengthened the faithful against their enemies, and they became the dominant ones.”59
“At the time of his advent, Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘a) will also deliver a speech to you, which you will not be able to accept. Therefore, you will rise up against him in the city of Ramaylah and wage war against him. The Imam will also confront you and will kill you, and this revolt will be the last uprising against him.”60
By the establishment of the divine system or global government of the Imam of the Age (‘atfs) and the downfall of the satanic powers, the flames of war will be extinguished and there will be no more powers that would be able to confront the army of al-Mahdi (‘atfs). As such, there will be no demand for military equipment in the markets and as a result they will become cheap remain unsold.
‘Ali (‘a) said: “…And war will also come to an end.”61
Ka‘b said: “The days will not end unless a man from Quraysh will descend in Bayt al-Muqaddas… And war will also cease to exist.”62
In a sermon regarding the Dajjal and how he will be killed, the Messenger of Allah (S) said: “Thereafter, the price of a horse will become a few dirhams.”63
Ibn Mas‘ud said: “Among the signs of the Day of Resurrection is that women and horses will become expensive. Afterward, they will become cheap and until the Day of Resurrection their respective prices will not be exorbitant.”64
Perhaps, what is meant by the expensiveness of women prior to the advent of the Imam of the Time (‘a) alludes to the fact that as a result of worsening economic conditions, maintaining and keeping a woman and having a family will become very problematic. Similarly, as a result of the proliferation of wars and the need for horses, procuring a horse (and war equipment) will become difficult and expensive.
However, with the end of war after the uprising of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs), weapons will become cheap, and as a result of improved economic conditions, the difficulties of life and marriage will be removed and as such women will become cheap to maintain.
Zamakhshari narrates: “One of the signs of the uprising of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) is that they will use swords instead of scythes.”65
Since there will be no more war at that time, people will therefore utilize instruments and industries intended for use in war for agricultural activities.
In this regard, the Noble Prophet of Islam (‘a) said: “…The price of cows will soar while the price of horses will become insignificant.”66
Perhaps, this hadith may also be interpreted in this manner: this is because cows are used in agriculture and their meat and milk can be consumed. Horses however are largely used as means of transportation in war.