Question: Historically, we see that every civilization eventually declines. Is it not possible that the government of Imam al-Mahdi (ع) will also decline? In particular, might not people eventually become discontent with his government?
Such a decline in the government of Imam al-Mahdi (ع) is inconceivable.
Governments decline for one of two reasons: either corruption creeps into the system and the government ceases to be just; or forces outside the government act treacherously by turning the people against the government. Since neither cause can exist in Imam al-Mahdi’s (ع) government, it will not decline.
Governments fail for one of two reasons:
1. The foundations of the government break down due to injustice and deviation from within. This leads either to a revolt of the people against the government’s injustice or to the invasion of foreign powers. Historically, many governments have fallen for this very reason. For instance, in Islamic history, the Sasanian Empire fell in the wake of the Muslim expansion; the Umayyad dynasty fell to the ‘Abbasids; and the ‘Abbasids, in turn, fell to the Mongols.
In each case, injustice had reached such a level that the people felt no sense of loyalty to their rulers that they should defend their government. Rather, they sought succour in the invading forces. Similarly, the Islamic revolution in Iran stemmed from the injustices of the Pahlavi government. In general, all unjust governments eventually fall either because of internal revolt or at the hands of an invader who finds little or no resistance from a people who are disenchanted with their rulers.
2. The people are deceived and tricked into disenchantment with their ruler. The government of Imam ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (ع) faced just such difficulties. The propaganda with which his political enemies bombarded his people and the wars that he was forced to fight prevented his people from being able to think clearly about the issues at hand.
In addition, in the years leading up to his caliphate, corruption had crept into the upper classes of society to such an extent that the Imam (ع) was reluctant to accept the caliphate since he knew the insurmountable difficulties that such corruption would cause. In particular, he knew that the people, after seeing the decadence of high society, and the discrepancy between Islamic teachings and what was being practiced by the upper echelons, would not have the resolve to defend his government. The inevitable result of these conditions was the assassination of the Imam (ع) and the decline of his government.
In the government of Imam al-Mahdi (ع), the first factor is inconceivable because like Imam ‘Ali b. Abi Talib (ع) government, his government will be absolutely just. For several reasons the second factor will also not come into play. For one thing, the people will have an increased level of Islamic awareness. Secondly, his government will have control over all forms of media and information technology; hence his enemies will not be able to incite the people against him. Lastly, at that time all aspects of Islamic law will have been put in place. In particular, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, will be practiced in its full manifestation, so neither corruption will creep into society, nor will the people become disenchanted with the rule of Allah (awj).
It should be kept in mind however, that at that time Satan will be as active as ever. He will be successful in deceiving some; however the vast majority of people will follow the truth for the aforementioned reasons.