The Growth of Knowledge and the Diffusion of Islamic Culture
A government whose leader is a person like al-Mahdi (‘atfs) for whom the doors of knowledge have been opened—doors of knowledge which have opened thirteen times compared to that of the prophets and the awliya’ (saints)—will naturally make tremendous progress in knowledge and will bring about remarkable transformations in the world of culture, science and technology.
In other words, the understanding of the science and knowledge that the Imam of the Age (‘atfs) will bring about for the people cannot be compared with the progress that mankind has so far attained. The people in turn will also show much more enthusiasm in the acquisition of knowledge to the extent that even very young women will become so well-versed in the Book of God and religious principles that they could easily deduce the decrees of God from the Holy Qur’an.
In the fields of technology and industry, there will also be astounding advancements. Although the hadiths have not mentioned the details of this advancement, the number of hadiths that have indicated something in this regard give an example of the impressive transformation in this context.
For example, there are hadiths that state: A person in the east would be able to see his brother in the west; during his speech, the Imam would be seen by the people all over the world; the supporters of the Imam will talk to one another across vast distances and one could hear the voice of the other; walking sticks and shoelaces will talk to people; house utensils will give reports to man; man will ride on the clouds in traveling, flying from one direction to another. And there are still more similar hadiths.
Although some of them perhaps refer to miracles, one can realize the abovementioned transformation by paying close attention to all the pertinent hadiths.
The hadiths show the world during the period of the Imam of the Age (‘atfs) as a civilized world at the apex of power and scientific advancement. In general, the state of technology at that time will be far more advanced than that of the present day just as today’s technology is astoundingly different from that of past centuries.
The most fundamental distinction between the advancement at the time of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) with that of the present is that in our time the advancement of science and technology has been leading to the degeneration of the culture and morality of human society and the more human beings make advancements in science the farther they move from humanity and the more they head toward corruption, retrogression and annihilation.
During the period of al-Mahdi (‘a), however, the situation will be different. While mankind will be attaining the highest growth in science and technology, to the same extent it will also be achieving the loftiest moral goals and human perfection.
With the implementation of divine programs in the government of Imam al-Mahdi (‘atfs), mankind will be so cultivated in personality that it would seem as if they were different from those human beings who had lived in the past. Just yesterday, they used to shed the blood of the nearest kith and kin for the sake of a single dirham or dinar, but now during the government of the Imam (‘atfs), money and wealth will become so insignificant and trivial for them that for them asking for such will be regarded as a sign of meanness and vileness of nature.
If just yesterday jealousy, rancor and enmity had been prevalent among them, during the government of Imam al-Mahdi (‘atfs) hearts will be as close together as if they were one soul in different bodies. The hearts of people who were irresolute, sluggish and weak will become stronger and firmer than iron.
Yes, the government of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will lead to the growth and perfection of the intellect and morality, and that time will be the day when talents will be perfected. What used to happen just yesterday was the result of narrow-mindedness, but in the divine system of al-Mahdi (‘a) humanity will reach the pinnacle of maturity and such qualities as morality, thinking and will will reach their heights.
This promise is the very great promise that will be realized in the government of justice of al-Mahdi (‘atfs). It is a gift that no government at no point in time has been able to present to human society.
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “Knowledge and learning are twenty seven letters, and everything that the prophets have brought is only two letters; so, now, the people are unaware (of these letters) except (juz’an) these two. When our Qa’im rises up, he will bring out the other twenty five letters, spreading and extending them among the people. He will also attach the two letters and a total of twenty seven letters will be distributed among the people.”1
As reported by Rawandi in Khara’ij, the word “juz’an” is the substitute of “sirfan” (merely).
It can be deduced from this hadith that although mankind progresses in terms of knowledge and learning, in the period of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) it will suddenly attain growth and expansion thirteen times more. When we think about it we will realize how stupendous and stunning this progress of knowledge during the period of the Imam (‘atfs) will be.
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “There is much awareness of the Book of God, the Honorable and Glorious, and the Sunnah of the Noble Prophet (S) in the heart of our Mahdi such that a plant will grow with the best quality. Anyone of you who remains alive during his advent and visits him, at the moment of meeting him should say: ‘May peace be upon you, O progeny of mercy and prophethood and the repository of knowledge and the station of messengership!’”2
The same Imam (‘a) also said: “This affair (the global governance of Islam) will be at the hand of him whose age (at the age of Imamate) is the youngest among us and his memory is the most pleasing among us. God will bestow knowledge and learning on him and will never leave him to himself.”3
The same Imam (‘a) also said elsewhere: “The Imam who possesses the Qur’an, knowledge and weapon is from us.”4
This hadith gives the secret behind the progress and perfection of humanity; the leader who can lead society toward felicity and perfection is he who possesses three things:
(1) the divine law that guides mankind toward perfection,
(2) knowledge that will be utilized for the comfort of human life, and
(3) power and a weapon that will remove the corrupt and hindrances in the way of human perfection.
Hadrat Wali al-‘Asr (‘atfs) is equipped with these things; therefore, he will rule over the world and apart from leading mankind toward progress in science and technology, he will also draw them toward moral and human perfection.
At this juncture, we shall mention some hadiths that illustrate the progress and advancement in science and technology during the period of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs):
Regarding the means of communication during the period of the Imam of the Age (‘atfs), Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “During the period of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs) the believer in the east would be able to see his brother in the west. Similarly, the believer in the west would be able to see his brother in the east.”5
This hadith can be better understood by taking into account the invention of video telephones. It is not clear, however, if this means of communication will be introduced in the entire world so that the people could use it conveniently. It is also possible that a more advanced system will replace it, or there is another means which is beyond all these mentioned things.
The same Imam (‘a) also said in another hadith: “When our Qa’im rises up, God will enhance the audio-visual power of our Shi‘ah in such a manner that the Imam will talk to his Shi‘ah from a distance of one barid (24 kilometers) while they would be able to hear his voice and see him; this will happen while the Imam remains where he is.”6
Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar asked Imam as-Sadiq (‘a): “In which site and place will Hadrat al-Mahdi appear?”
The Imam (‘a) replied: “During his advent there would be no witness that could see the Imam when others could not see him (that is, during his advent everybody would be able to see him), and if anyone would claim other than this fact, you have to deny him.”7
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “It is as if I can see Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs) wearing the armor of the Prophet (S)… And no inhabitant of any land could remain without having seen him in a manner that it would seem as if he was in their own country.”8
It can be understood from this hadith that during the time of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs), people would be able to see him by means other than what exists today, for it has thus been stated in the hadith that “The people would be able to see him in a manner that it would seem as if he was among them in their own country.”
There are two probabilities in this regard: (1) a system of broadcasting three dimensional images will be spread all over the world at that time, and (2) a more advanced system which will replace the existing one will be utilized in seeing him, or the hadith points to a miracle to be preformed by the Imam (‘atfs).
Regarding the means of transportation at that time, the Messenger of Allah (S) said: “After you, communities (aqwam) shall come, under whose feet the earth can be traversed and for whom the doors of the world will be opened… The earth can be traversed in less than the blink of an eye so much so that if any of them wants to traverse the world from east to west in an hour, they would be able to do this.”9
Many hadiths have been narrated concerning the advance of information technology during the advent of the Imam of the Time (‘atfs) as well as in his government. It would be sufficient to mention two of them:
The Noble Messenger (S) said: “By Him in Whose hand is my soul! The Day of Resurrection shall not come to pass unless one’s shoe, walking stick or staff would report to him what his family had done after going out of his home.”10
Concerning the types of information during the period of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs), Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “He acquired the name “Mahdi” (the guided one) because he will be guided regarding hidden affairs so much so that he would dispatch men to execute a person whom the people do not know was a criminal.
The degree of the Imam’s awareness of the people would be such that if a person would speak inside his house he would be afraid lest the walls of his house gave report and bore witness.”11
This hadith probably indicates the amazing advancement of the system of information during the period of the Imam of the Time. Of course, any government that will rule over the entire world will need a complex system and structure of information. Similarly, it is also possible that it refers to the apparent purport of the hadith, i.e. the wall itself would give a report.
In the government of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) people will enter the fold of Islam in an unprecedented manner, and the period of the strangulation and suppression of religious people and the banning of Islamic symbols will come to an end.
The call of Islam will reverberate everywhere manifesting the impact of religion. In the words of some hadiths, Islam will penetrate every house, slum and tent just as heat and cold would penetrate therein. As the effect of heat and cold is inevitable, not subject to our choice and will, in the same manner, Islam at that time will penetrate all places, cities, villages, fields, and deserts notwithstanding the inner opposition of some. It will influence and transform them.
In such a state of affairs, people’s reception and acceptance of the manifestations of religion and principles will naturally be unparalleled. The people’s reception of Qur’anic education, congregational prayers and Friday prayers will be eye-catching, and the present mosques and those to be built in the future would not be able to meet their needs.
That which has been stated in a hadith that in one mosque congregational prayers will be performed twelve times is itself a vivid proof of the degree of the people’s acceptance of religious manifestations. Taking into account the fact that during the advent of Imam al-Mahdi (‘atfs) the population of the world will decrease because of a series of killing and wars, this point is noteworthy.
Under such circumstances, the role of offices or ministries in charge of religious and cultural affairs will be very wide. The mosques will be built in proportion to population size. In some places, it will even be necessary to build mosques having five hundred doors. It is also stated in a hadith that the smallest mosque at that time will be the Kufah Mosque, which at the present is one of the largest mosques in the world.
Now we shall present a number of hadiths on Imam al-Mahdi’s government, the expansion of teaching in Qur’anic and Islamic sciences, the mushrooming of mosques, the enhancement of spirituality, and the elevation of morality.
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “It is as if I can see my Shi‘ah gathering in the Kufah Mosque and by erecting tents they are teaching the people in the same manner that the Qur’an had been revealed.”12
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “It is as if I can see the Shi‘ah of ‘Ali (‘a) having copies of the Qur’an in their hands and teaching the people.”13
Asbagh ibn Nabatah said: “I heard ‘Ali (‘a) saying, ‘It is as if I can see the ‘ajam (non-Arab people) spreading their tents in the Kufah Mosque and teaching Qur’an to the people just as it had been revealed’.”14
This hadith clarifies the identity of the teachers of the Qur’an as ‘ajam and according to linguists15 the word ‘ajam here refers to the Persians and Iranians.
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said: “During the period of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘a) wisdom and understanding will be given to you such that a woman in her house will pass judgment based on the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet (S).”16
Habbah ‘Arani said: “The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) proceeded toward the land of Hirah17 and said: ‘…Certainly, in the city of Hirah a mosque having five hundred doors will be built and in which twelve just prayer leaders will conduct congregational prayers.’
I asked: ‘O Commander of the Faithful! As you have described, can the Kufah Mosque accommodate the people then?’ He answered: ‘Four mosques will be built there, and the (present) Kufah Mosque will be the smallest among them. This mosque (in Hirah with five hundred doors) and two other mosques at the two ends of the city of Kufah will be built,’ and then the Imam (‘a) pointed to the direction of Basriyin and Gharbiyin rivers.”18
The same Imam (‘a) also said: “Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will continue his movement… until such time that so many mosques will be built in Constantinople and its surroundings.”19
Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar said: “Hadrat as-Sadiq (‘a) said: ‘When Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs) rises up, he will build a mosque with one thousand doors outside the city of Kufah (Zahr al-Kufah).”20
Maybe what is meant by Zahr al-Kufah mentioned in the hadith is the holy city of Najaf since some scholars have described Najaf as Zahr al-Kufah.
The Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “The people during the time of al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will be preoccupied with worship and religion, performing the prayers in congregation.”21
Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “The houses in Kufah will be connected to the river of Karbala’ and Hirah so much so that a person who wants to join the Friday congregational prayer will ride on a fast animal and yet cannot reach the prayers on time.”22
Perhaps it alludes to the increase in population and crowdedness, which will hinder his timely participation and presence in the Friday congregational prayers. That all the prayer attendees will gather in one place and that the Friday congregational prayers will not be performed more than once is perhaps due to the unification of these three cities; for, from the viewpoint of religious law, the performance of more than one Friday congregational prayer is not permissible.
Mufaddal ibn ‘Umar reports that Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said: “When our Qa’im rises up, one might be ignorant, cowardly and jealous before daybreak, and by the daytime he will be the wisest among the people, the bravest among them, and the most compassionate. Then the Imam’s victory will be near at hand.”23
Hadrat ‘Ali (‘a) said: “When our Qa’im rises up… The rancor of the servants (of God) in relation to one another will be removed from their hearts.”24
The Holy Prophet of Islam (S) also said in this regard: “…At that time spite and enmity will be removed from the hearts.”25
Regarding the extinction of moral corruption and deviation, Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (‘a) said: “At the end of time, God will send a man through whom none of the corrupt and deviant will remain without being reformed.”26
One of the features of the period of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) is that greed and covetousness will be wiped away and the spirit of freedom from want will be instilled in men.
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “At the time when Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) rises up, God will put contentment and freedom from want into the hearts of His servants so much so that the Imam will announce that anybody who was in need of wealth and property to come forward but nobody will take the first step forward.”27
What is interesting to note is that in the hadith the word ‘ibad (servants) has been used. It implies that this spiritual transformation will not be confined to a particular group. In fact, this inner change will happen to all human beings.
The Prophet also (S) said: “I give you the glad tidings of the Mahdi (‘atfs) who shall be sent to the people while commotion and discord are prevalent among them. Then, he will fill the earth with justice and equity just as it had been full of tyranny and oppression; the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth will be pleased with him.
“God will make the hearts of the ummah of Muhammad (S) overflowing with freedom from want so much so that a caller will announce, ‘Anybody who is in need of wealth and property should step forward (so as to satisfy his need),’ but nobody would come forward except one person. Then, Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs) will say to him: ‘Go to the treasurer and tell him that Mahdi has ordered him to give you wealth and property.’
The treasurer will say: ‘You collect the money with your two hands,’ and he will do so but while still there he will regret what he had done and say to himself: ‘What happened for me to become the most covetous of the ummah of the Prophet (S)?! Did the One who made them contented and free from want fail to make me free from want?’ Then he will return to give back the money. But the treasurer will not accept it, saying: ‘We do not take back anything we have given!’”28
In the hadith the phrase, “محمّد أمّة قُلوب يملأ” has been used, which needs close attention; for, riches and freedom from want is not the point. Instead, it is magnanimity and inner freedom from want. It is possible for a man to be poor but has inner freedom from want.
There are some hadiths regarding the people’s intellectual growth, moral perfection and strength of faith during the period of Hadrat al-Mahdi (‘atfs). It will suffice to mention some of them:
Since he will fully implement Islamic commands, the Imam of the Time (‘atfs) will bring about the intellectual growth of the people and materialize the objective of the Noble Prophet (S) when he said: “I was sent to perfect the morality of mankind.”
The Messenger of Allah (S) said to Hadrat Fatimah (‘a), God will send a man from the progeny of these two (Hasan and Husayn) who will conquer the strongholds of misguidance and subdue the locked and blackened hearts.”31
Imam al-Baqir (‘a) said that the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) said: “A man from my progeny will appear… And he will put his hand on the heads of the servants of God. Then, no believer will remain unless his heart would become more formidable than big pieces of iron and anvil, and he would acquire the strength of forty men.”32
The people during the time of Hadrat al-Qa’im (‘atfs) will believe in the deceitfulness of the world, knowing all the adversities and sins therein. In terms of faith and piety they will reach such a sublime state where the world can no longer beguile them.
The Messenger of Allah (S) said: “The earth will bring out its best substances such as gold and silver. Then the murderer will come forward and say, ‘On account of them I committed murder,’ and he who severs his relationship with his kith and kin will say, ‘These were the reasons for the severance of relationships.’ The stealer will say: ‘It was because of them my hand was amputated.’
Then, all of them will release the gold and they will not take anything from them.”33
Zayd az-Zurrad reports: “I said to Imam as-Sadiq (‘a): ‘We are afraid that we would not be among the believers.’ He asked: ‘Why?’ I replied: ‘Because among us, we cannot find anyone who prefers his brother-in-faith to his dinar and dirham, and we can see that dirham and dinar for us are preferable to a brother-in-faith with whom we have been united by the wilayah (guardianship) of, and love for, the Commander of the Faithful (‘a).’
“The Imam (‘a) said: ‘That is not the case; you are believers, but your faith will not be perfected unless our Qa’im rises up. At that time, God will instill brotherhood and fortitude in you and then you will become perfect believers.”34
- 1. Khara’ij, vol. 2, p. 841; Mukhtasar Basa’ir ad-Darajat, p. 117; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, p. 326.
- 2. Kamaluddin, vol. 2, p. 653; Al-‘Adad al-Qawiyyah, p. 65; Ithbat al-Hudah, vol. 3, p. 491; Hilyah al-Abrar, vol. 3, p. 639; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 51, p. 36; vol. 52, p. 317.
- 3. ‘Iqd ad-Durar, p. 42.
- 4. Mathalib an-Nawasib, vol. 1, p. 222.
- 5. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, p. 391; Haqq al-Yaqin, vol. 1, p. 229; Bisharah al-Islam, p. 341.
- 6. Al-Kafi, vol. 8, p. 240; Khara’ij, vol. 2, p. 840; Mukhtasar al-Basa’ir, p. 117; Sirat al-Mustaqim, vol. 2, p. 262; Muntakhab al-Anwar al-Mudi’ah, p. 200; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, p. 336.
- 7. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 53, p. 6.
- 8. Kamil az-Ziyarat, p. 119; Nu‘mani, Ghaybah, p. 309; Kamaluddin, vol. 2, p. 671; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, p. 325; Ithbat al-Hudah, vol. 3, p. 493; Nur ath-Thaqalayn, vol. 1, p. 387; Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, vol. 10, p. 245; Jami‘ Ahadith ash-Shi‘ah, vol. 12, p. 370.
- 9. Firdaws al-Akhbar, vol. 2, p. 449; Ihqaq al-Haqq, vol. 13, p. 351.
- 10. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad Ibn Hanbal, vol. 3, p. 89; Firdaws al-Akhbar, vol. 5, p. 98; Jami‘ al-Usul, vol. 11, p. 81.
- 11. Nu‘mani, Ghaybah, p. 319; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, p. 365.
- 12. Nu‘mani, Ghaybah, p. 318; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, p. 364.
- 13. Ibid.
- 14. Al-Irshad, p. 365; Kashf al-Ghummah, vol. 3, p. 265; Nur ath-Thaqalayn, vol. 5, p. 27; Rawdah al-Wa‘izin, vol. 2, p. 265.
- 15. Majma‘ al-Bahrayn, vol. 6, p. 111.
- 16. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, p. 352.
- 17. Hirah was a city 6 kilometers away from Kufah where Lakhmid kings who were protégés of Iran ruled during the Sassanid period. In 602 CE Khosroe Pervez overthrew this dynasty and determined the ruler there. After the Muslims’ conquest of it, Hirah declined due to the rise of Kufah, and prior to the tenth century CE/fourth century AH, it was totally ruined. See Farhang-e Farsi-ye Mu‘in, vol. 5, p. 470.
- 18. At-Tahdhib, vol. 3, p. 253; Al-Kafi, vol. 4, p. 427; Man la Yahduhuh al-Faqih, vol. 2, p. 525; Wasa’il ash-Shi‘ah, vol. 9, p. 412; Mir’atu’l-‘Uqul, vol. 18, p. 58; Maladh al-Akhyar, vol. 5, p. 478; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, p. 375.
- 19. Ihqaq al-Haqq, vol. 13, p. 312.
- 20. Al-Irshad, p. 362; Shaykh at-Tusi, Ghaybah, p. 295; Ithbat al-Hudah, vol. 3, p. 537; Wafi, vol. 2, p. 112; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, pp. 330, 337.
- 21. ‘Iqd ad-Durar, p. 159.
- 22. Shaykh at-Tusi, Ghaybah, p. 295; Ithbat al-Hudah, vol. 3, p. 537; Wafi, vol. 2, p. 112; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, pp. 330, 337.
- 23. Wafi, vol. 2, p. 113, as quoted from Futuhat al-Makkiyyah.
- 24. Khisal, vol. 2, p. 254, hadith 1051.
- 25. ‘Abdur-Razzaq, Musannif, vol. 11, p. 402; Ibn Hammad, Fitan, p. 162; Ibn Hammad, Malahim, p. 152.
- 26. Manan ar-Rahman, vol. 2, p. 42; Ithbat al-Hudah, vol. 3, p. 524, as reported from the Commander of the Faithful (‘a).
- 27. Ibn Tawus, Malahim, p. 71; Ihqaq al-Haqq, vol. 13, p. 186; Ash-Shi‘ah wa’r-Raj‘ah, vol. 1, p. 27.
- 28. Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad Ibn Hanbal, vol. 3, pp. 37, 52; Jami‘ Ahadith ash-Shi‘ah, vol. 1, p. 34; Ihqaq al-Haqq, vol. 13, p. 146.
- 29. Al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 25; Khara’ij, vol. 2, p. 840; Kamaluddin, vol. 2, p. 675.
- 30. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 52, p. 336.
- 31. ‘Iqd ad-Durar, p. 152; Ihqaq al-Haqq, vol .13, p.116; Ithbat al-Hudah, vol. 3, pp. 448, 495.
- 32. Kamaluddin, vol. 2, p. 653; Dala’il al-Imamah, p. 243; Kamil az-Ziyarat, p. 119.
- 33. Muslim, Sahih Muslim, vol. 2, p. 701; Tirmidhi, Sahih Tirmidhi, vol. 34, p. 493; Abu Ya‘la, Musnad, vol. 11, p. 32; Jami‘ al-Usul, vol. 11, p. 38.
- 34. Al-Usul as-Sittah ‘Ashar, p. 6; Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 67, p. 350.