The Coming of The Mahdi (A) -1/3

The first part of a highly uplifting series of three lectures describing and analyzing the events which will lead to the re-appearance of Imam al-Mahdi, the twelfth infallible leader of the Shi'a, and the revolutionary banner of justice which he shall establish across the world.

A'udhu bil-Lahi min al-Shaytan al-rajim. Bismi-Llahi, Al-Rahmani, Al-Rahim. Al-hamdulil-Lahi Rabbi al-Alameen, bari' al-khalaa'iqi ajma'een. Wa as-salat wa as-salam 'ala asharaf al-Anbiya'i wa al-Mursalin, Sayyidina, wa Nabiyyina, wa habibi qulubina, wa tabibi nufusina, wa shafi'i dhunubina, Abi il-Qasim Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad]. Thumma as-salatu wa as-salamu 'ala Ahli baytihi, at-tayyibin, at-taharin, al-madhlomeen. La siyama al-Hujjat ibn il-Hasan, Sahib az-Zaman mawlana wa mawla al-kawnayn, ajal Allahu Ta'ala farajahu ash-Sharif [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad].

Amma ba'd, faqad qala Allahu Tabaraka wa Ta'ala fi kitabih, wa Huwa asdaq ul-qa’ilin. Bismillahi, al-Rahman, al-Rahim. "Huwa al-ladhi arsala Rasulahu bi 'l-huda wa deen il-haqq li yudhhirahu 'ala ad-deeni kullih, wa law kariha al-mushrikoon"(61:9) (9:33). Salawat 'ala Muhammad wa aali Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad].

Tonight we begin a series of three lectures to mark and to celebrate the birth of the Imam of our time Imam Sahib az-Zaman, ajal Allahu Ta'ala farajahu ash-Sharif [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad]. And the verse of the Qur'an that I have begun with is from Surat us-Saff chapter 61 of the Qur'an, verse nine, in which Allah says, He it is Allah who sent His messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, "li yudhhirahu 'ala ad-deeni kullih"(61:9), so that it may prevail over all other religions, even if this is detested and even if this is averse to the polytheists.

This verse of the Qur'an has also been repeated in Surah al Tawba, Chapter nine of the Qur'an in verse 33 and with a slight difference. It also appears in Suratul Fath [wa aleykum as-salam]chapter 48 in which Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala also says, "Huwa al-ladhi arsala Rasulahu bi 'l-huda wa deen il-haqq li yudhhirahu 'ala ad-deeni kullih" (48:28) and then He says: "wa kafa bi-Llahi shaheeda" (48:28). And Allah suffices as a witness.

And this verse will form the basis of our discussion in part, because just as the Qur'an itself is a miracle, one of the miracles of Islam is its prophecies, and what it has told us of that which is to come from the time that the Qur'an was revealed to the end of the world. And so Islamic literature has gathered a large amount of such material in the form of verses of the Qur'an firstly, and then also ahadith, so there is a lot of textual evidences on matters to do with eschatology.

And so this is one of those prophecies in which the Qur'an says that Allah has sent His Messenger with this religion of truth, so that it may prevail over all other religions. Now, before we go further, it is important that I mention and clarify a little bit what Islam and the Qur'an refers to when it says that this religion may prevail over all other religions, because I am very cognizant of the fact that these lectures tend to somehow make their way to the Internet. And a lot of times they are not just heard by Muslims, but even by non-Muslims, by Jews, by Christians and others.

And it can very easily lend itself to the idea that Islam has a militant agenda to essentially wipe out all other religions and to basically force everyone into submission or kill them. And unfortunately, this sort of an agenda tends to be vocalized by some militant and fundamentalist groups who call themselves Muslims, but we do not subscribe to that belief. So it is important to clarify here that when the Qur'an talks of deen and when it talks of Islam, it generally understands the religion of God to be only one. "Inna ad-deenna 'inda Allahi al-Islam" (3:19).

But this Islam is not a proprietary form of religion where the Jews say our religion is based on the Tawrat and we are the followers of Moses, and our religion is Christianity and we are the followers of Jesus and we follow the Bible, and you Muslims follow Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad], and your book is the Qur'an and so on.

And this sort of thinking in itself is flawed, and it has given rise to even individuals who promote a pluralistic idea of religion to say that all religions are correct and all religions are fine and lead to God. Essentially, the Qur'an's message is that there is only one religion with God. These messengers are not to bring different paths to you. They all bring the one path, which is the path of Tawhid, the path of monotheism, the idea that there is only one God to be worshiped, besides whom there is none.

So when the Qur'an says that He it is God who sent His Messenger with guidance and with the religion of truth so that it may prevail over all other religions. The idea here is that this religion is meant to realign any false ideas that may have entered that one original religion that Adam peace be upon him came with, the same religion that Noah came with, the same religion that Ibrahim came with. It was the same thing that Dawood and Sulayman and Musa and Zakariya and Yahya 'alayhihum as-salam, came with the same idea. That was Islam as well.

In other words, that religion which will prevail will not be to say that the other religions have to be eliminated. It simply means they have to come to an agreement of one truth and remove any misconceptions and wrong ideas in them. And as we shall see in our discussion that with the coming of the Imam and with this prophecy being fulfilled, a large number of individuals from other faiths will not be fought against and killed, but rather will change their views and submit to that one religion, to that one Islam that was always the religion that God had planned for mankind.

So in essence, there is only one truth and one religion, and that religion is one of complete submission to Allah. That is the religion of Tawhid. And that is the "deen il-Haqq" that Allah is talking about.

The second point to keep in mind is that last year I also had the honour of speaking here on the 15th of Sha'ban and we talked about the signs for the return of the Imam and tonight we shall do the same as well. But last year when we talked about these 'alamaat of dhuhoor, as we call them, the prophecies and signs for the reappearance, they were based on events. We broke them down into general signs. We broke them down into specific signs and into definite signs, and those signs that must come or must take place before the return of the Imam.

What we wish to do this time around, though, is to talk about these signs not so much as events, but in a sequential form, so that there is a greater understanding of these events when they occur, in what sequence they occur, and how they happen and what different regions of the world they affect.

Now, the idea is not simply to satisfy the curiosity that most people tend to have [wa aleykum as-salam] with regards to apocalyptic matters and with regards to political matters. Everyone is curious to know when is the world coming to an end. A lot of times it is because people are fed up with their lives and they want something disastrous to happen so that there is some excitement and some change in their lives. But the idea here is not to simply talk about them for the sake of it.

The idea is that through understanding these signs, we may in somehow or some way come closer to the Imam of our time and make his presence in our lives more real, so that it is not simply a theory that we live with to say, yes, we know there is an Imam and he is alive and he will return, but that we somehow are able to connect with him and feel his presence in our lives and we somehow relate to what he stands for and prepare ourselves with his coming and his return inshaAllah.

Now, last year when we talked about the signs, the summary of those signs that we we made was that you can talk about signs for not just weeks, but months, because there are hundreds and hundreds of riwayat and ahadith, both from Shi'a and Sunni sources. However, you will always run into issues. Like, for example, you will find some traditions that contradict each other. Then you need to verify which ones are authentic, which ones are not. You will run into issues where they might be names of places and people that you can no longer identify because of them being very ancient. You will run into issues where when these signs take place, people will try to explain them away with some scientific evidence and so on and so forth.

And so what we concluded last year was that essentially, after knowing all the signs, not that they are not important, what is of greater importance is that one should prepare oneself spiritually. The purity of the heart and its ability to recognize who the right Imam is, is far greater than simply knowing the signs and memorising them. And inshaAllah, maybe tomorrow or the day after when we develop the subject further and we will talk about the reasons why individuals might reject the Imam when he returns, this will become more clear.

So just to give you an idea then, before we really get into the subject, the plan of our discussion over these three nights is that tonight we want to talk about the signs. But then slowly, between tomorrow and day after, we want to shift the discussion from simply the signs of his return to talking about what are the reasons why individuals who today believe in him, who acknowledge him, who constantly pray for his return, would reject him. And there is a close connection between that discussion and this discussion of the signs, but it will come to light as we discuss InshaAllah.

What I would like us to keep in mind for tonight as we discuss these signs, is that notice that as I list these signs and the sequence in which they occur, notice the ordinariness of the events. Notice that in their narration, they are not happening in a miraculous manner. It is not signs where angels are descending or an army of angels coming down with swords and that sort of a thing, or an Imam waving a magic wand and miracles happening. It is happening through the kind of processes that you would very much see today if there was a change in a society, whether it was military or political or social or psychological. So try and keep that in mind and I will mention it as we go, inshaAllah.

And if we keep this in mind that the changes that the Imam brings about right from the reappearance have an element of humanness, very ordinariness to it, then the other discussion on why individuals might reject the Imam will also become easier to understand tomorrow onwards, inshaAllah. If we can recite a salawat 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad].

Now the source for all these discussions that I am bringing out in terms of signs, because individuals tend to be curious, where are you bringing this from, I am relying a lot for tonight's discussion on a book called "'Asr al-Dhuhoor". "'Asr al-Dhuhoor" is authored by Sheikh Ali Kourani, who is a contemporary scholar and lives in Qom, Iran, and he is highly respected in the Shi'a world and an authority on the discussion of Imam al-Mahdi 'alayhi as-salam, and the signs of his return. I favour this book because this book was originally written some 25, 26 years ago. But the author has not just left the book alone.

He continues to research the traditions and the narrations in the book to verify its authenticity, and he keeps updating it. And so the present version that I have been using is the 11th edition of the book, and it is structured in a sequential manner that makes it more easier to understand how the events are interrelated. So inshaAllah this is the source and where it is not, I will mention that as well.

The interest in the return of the Imam and the signs of his reappearance takes a radical shift after the year 1979. And this is because of the revolution, the Islamic revolution of Iran. It would be hard to deny that this revolution of Iran that Imam Khomeini initiated played an important role in the interest that individuals have taken in the return of the Imam and his signs. If you speak to the elders in the community, you will find that prior to 1979, where there was not this resurgence of awareness in Islamic studies in Islamic sciences, when people had not heard of books of Hadith and nobody knew what Al-Kafi even means, you will find that the ideas that individuals had about the Imam were very sketchy and in many ways flawed.

For example, a popular belief was that there was a green island where the Imam lived and there were incidents related to that green island where his sons ruled on those islands. There were some narrations that many times the enemies of the Shi'as will quote and prove or bring out as evidence to show that the Shi'as are misguided. They say the Shi'as believe that their Imam is living in a cave or hiding in a cave somewhere, waiting to return and so on. These sort of ideas, that the Imam lives in a cave or an island and is waiting to return. These were more popular prior to that. It is not that the 'ulama changed their mind and said, no, that was wrong and now we believe something else. The 'ulama always had a correct understanding, but that was not accessible to us, because before the revolution, a lot of this material was not even being translated into languages that we can comprehend or interact with.

But the correct understanding was that the Imam is actually not isolated. He is very much present in our society, living in our midst. He is not in ghayba in the sense that he is invisible. He is in ghayba in the sense that his identity is not known. If he was sitting in this room right now, we would not know who he is. And that is why there are narrations to say that upon his return, there are many individuals who might see him and then say "I have seen this man before, he helped me on such and such an occasion" and so on and so forth.

Added evidence to the fact that 1979 was an important change is that a couple of interesting events happened right around that time. In 1979 as well, obviously with the revolution of Iran. Rumors began after that in the early years of the revolution that the FBI and the CIA have actually got a file on the 12th Imam and they have collected all the information about him possible, the only thing missing is his photograph. And this rumor lasted for a long time, even in Iran, to such a degree that even now there are people who still subscribe to that understanding.

In the same year, 1979, a man by the name of Muhammad Abdullah al-Otaybi declared himself to be the Mahdi near the Ka'aba, and he basically hijacked the haram, if you like. He basically took the haram with a group of soldiers and the government, the Saudi government could not actually remove him for several days before they were able to storm the place and get and remove him. So at that point, you can see that the world, not just the Shi'a world, but the Sunni world as well, was thinking along those lines and and expecting this sort of an event to take place. Because we know that when the Imam returns, he returns in Mecca near the Kaaba. And this individual tried to basically take claim in the same manner and he was overcome.

Two years later, in 1981, an author by the name of A.J. Quinnell, wrote a thriller novel called 'The Mahdi'. And the novel is about the secret agents in the West, essentially the UK and the USA, the secret agents there create a puppet, an Arab, who they groomed for the role of the Mahdi, and then in the view of full Muslims, during the season of Hajj, he basically declares himself as the Mahdi and brings all the Muslims to submit to his command. And so the thriller novel is based on this idea that there is an individual who takes all the Muslims in his control and so all the Muslims listen to him, and then these Western Secret services control him as a puppet. And that is the idea behind the novel, which then sparked other interests in movies and so on and so forth. And the novel itself is called 'The Mahdi'.

The same year in 1981, a documentary came to the world discussing the prophecies of Nostradamus in the name of The Man Who Saw Tomorrow. Anybody who was 10 years old by then has probably seen that documentary. Right? Very popular. I am sure many of us here have seen The Man Who Saw Tomorrow. And this documentary, The Man Who Saw Tomorrow was shown in the US for three months consecutively on the televisions. And in that documentary, there is essentially prophecies that are modified to promote this idea that there is a man from the Middle East who wears a turban, and he essentially starts an attempt to take over the world and he destroys Europe. And in that time Russia was still USSR and was a superpower. So then the US and and the USSR, the two superpowers, get together to defeat this Mahdi essentially.

Now this is not new. The idea of using prophecies like Nostradamus to control the masses and the minds of people, even Hitler used it during the Second World War, where he would have planes flying over regions and throwing thousands and thousands of pamphlets showing prophecies of Nostradamus that he will take over this and that so that they should not resist and fight him.

And the idea in the documentary was not so much to promote the belief of a Savior, or the return of Jesus, or the return of a Mahdi, or whether Nostradamus was even right or wrong or what he was prophesying. But the idea was to create this fear and to assassinate the character of an individual whom the Muslims are waiting for, so that in the minds of at least the individuals in the West, this would stay firm, that Islam is dangerous, and must be stopped from expanding, and that Islamophobia has continued from that time right up to now as well, very much alive.

And to some degree then this idea of instead of yearning for the return of a savior of the Mahdi, to be afraid of the return of this Mahdi in the minds of the non-Muslims has been promoted. This idea has continued to be promoted to some degree by the Muslims themselves, because when Muslims discussed this idea of the return of the Imam, there tends to be an emphasis on the aspects of the war and the fighting and the violence that when the Imam comes, there will be a global war, and we will take up arms, and we will fight, and kufr and batil will be wiped out and, you know, we will have victory and we will dominate over others and that is the idea.

But there is some truth to that to a certain point, which we will talk about. But thereafter is where the real work starts. And that is the work of when there is unity and there is love and there is peace and tranquility on the earth. And human beings now are ready for a next phase in their spiritual evolution, if you like, where human beings are now taken to higher levels of thought, higher levels of understanding, more wisdom and more knowledge. And that is never discussed.

Even when you look at the qasidas and the musha'ira that we compose about the Imam, there tends to be about how America and England will be overcome and so on and so. You will never hear any ash'aar talking about how the Imam brings peace or how the Imam helps human beings evolve to the next level. And that is because of our lack of knowledge and inshaAllah we are going to try and correct that as well through these series of lectures and discussions.

Now keeping in mind of course our limited time, not just for tonight, but also in the three days, let us now actually begin discussing the signs. And these signs are so detailed it would be impossible to do them in three days. So what I present here is a summary. If we finish our discussion tomorrow or day after on what are the reasons why Muslims or even some Shi'as might reject the Imam on his return and we come to a satisfactory conclusion, then we can come back and discuss some of these signs in greater detail.

But as I said earlier, what I wish to present this year, and there is no harm in discussing this every year so that we refresh ourselves and see this from different perspectives. But what I wish to discuss this year inshaAllah is the events in sequence and in some ways geographically.

There are three personalities or individuals whose names keep appearing in traditions and riwayat again and again closer to the time of the Imam's return. These three personalities are called al-Khorasani, al-Yamani, and as-Sufiyani. The first two being righteous and virtuous, and their names suggest either their lineage or the place they come from, which is typical of the Arabic language. As you know, in Arabic, when you use names like Khomeini or Sistani or Khu'ei or Tabrizi or Shirazi, it is not their names, but it is simply the names of the cities that they come from.

So al-Khorasani is an individual who comes from Khorasan, the province north-east of Iran. Al-Yamani is an individual who comes from Yemen. And as-Sufiyani is a descendent of the Ummayyads from Abu Sufiyan. Now as-Sufiyani is the unrighteous or the evil individual whose rule does not last more than 15 months and when he emerges, he establishes himself in Damascus and he also invades Palestine, and we shall connect this to other signs. It is very important to keep this in mind that his base is Damascus.

The movement of the Imam, as we said, begins in Mecca, in Masjid al-Haram. And the first two communities and nations to come to the support of the Imam are from Iran, through this individual al-Khorasani, and from Yemen through this individual called al-Yamani. Al-Yamani is mentioned repeatedly again and again that the standard of al-Yamani is that of guidance. If you know of the rising of al-Yamani, do not fail to reach him, do not oppose him and support him.

Now, as far as the support of the group from Iran is concerned, whether that support is as a government or whether it is not as a government or if the government changes in how it is shaped today or does not exist as the government does today. But there is a group from Khorasan. This force that we were just referring to is the Iranian force, their role in support for the Imam in the books and riwayat suggest it starts much earlier, a lot before the coming of the Imam, and that they will fight long wars with enemies and they will continue prevailing over their enemies, until closer to the Imam's time when two individuals of prominence will rise from Iran.

This will be one group. Their political and spiritual leader is simply referred to as Al-Khorasani, and they have a military wing to this, and the military leader is called Shu'ayb bin Salih. It is important to remember these two names because these two names refer again and again, not just in the book that I have looked at, but in all the books. Al-Khorasani and Shu'ayb bin Salih as the leader of the military from this group from Iran or Khorasan is mentioned again and again.

Last year when I talked about al-Khorasani I also mentioned briefly what we know from our books on the path that this group takes in Iran, where they start from, where they grow, what are the different cities and regions they go through in Iran before they meet with the Imam. And that would take a lot of time to repeat. If you are able to listen to that again, you can or inshaAllah, if we are able to discuss it in future, we will.

As far as the helpers who come from Yemen, their role is not so much in advance as that of the group from Iran. Their role is just a few months before the Imam, such that if the Imam was to return at the end of Dhul Hijjah or at the early, between Ramadan and Dhul Hijjah, actually between Ramadan, there is an announcement of the return of the Imam, but he publicizes himself more towards Dhul Hijjah and Muharram. These groups of Sufiyani and Yamani and al-Khorasani tend to be more prominent sometime in Rajab. Some of the riwayat said the month of Rajab, some of them say just a few months before the Imam. Some riwayat says that all three groups will begin their movement and start publicizing themselves on the same year, in the same month, on the same day. So they are very significant in the roles that they play.

The Yamani group plays an important role because of the proximity to Hijaz, which is present-day Saudi Arabia. And those of you who may not be familiar with the landscape of the Middle East, I would urge you to go home and look at this on the Internet before you come tomorrow so that you understand this better. For those of you who have lived in the Middle East or who understand this, you know the proximity of Yemen to Saudi Arabia. They play an important role, the Yamani group, because when the Imam appears, he starts his movement in Mecca, which is in Hijaz, and at that point, there is a vacuum in power and leadership in Hijaz. And we shall talk about this in a few minutes.

Amongst the riwayat and the signs that come to us, such as one from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq, salawat Allahi wa as-salamu alayh [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad], where he mentions the definite signs of Yamani and Sufiyani and Khorasani, he mentions three other signs that I talked about last year.

One is a voice that is heard in the heavens that is called As-sayha, a loud scream or a voice that we shall talk about briefly. The other is the murder of a pure soul that is called in books of riwayat An-Nafs az-Zakiya. An-Nafs az-Zakiya is an individual who is extremely, extremely pious, and he is murdered near the Ka'aba in Masjid ul-Haram, which as you know is a place and a sanctuary for people. Whoever enters it is meant to be peace, is meant to be safe and in peace. But he is murdered right near the Ka'aba, very close to the coming of the Imam. And this is a major sign as well.

And the third as well that the Imam mentions is that of a landslide between Mecca and Medina that is known as al-Bayda'. And we will talk about this. This is a landslide that swallows the army of Sufiyani. So these are common signs that are repeated again and again as being definite signs.

Now, let us talk about the power vacuum in Hijaz. Most of the books that I have seen, they say that towards the time of the Imam, Hijaz will be ruled by kings. There will be a kingdom established. Remember that in Islam, there was no mulukiya, there was no kingdom. But as you know today, Saudi Arabia, there is a kingdom. They call themselves the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And the books of riwayat say the last king of Hijaz will be a man who will be called Abdullah. Now, whether this Abdullah refers to the present King Abdullah or whether it is in future, we do not know, nor are we intending to suggest that it is him. But this is in the books.

Unfortunately, the riwayat perhaps for fears have not mentioned the name of the tribe. It just says there will be a king from Banu Fulan. Fulan means so-and-so without actually saying the name, whatever it is Sa'ud or whoever. If it does refer to the present king of Abdullah, then an interesting thing to note is that the present King Abdullah is now 86 years old. What is more interesting is that if you Google King Abdullah's successor, you will find an article that appeared in a British newspaper, The Telegraph, on 10 February 2007, that said that the Saudi king has now lost the power to choose a successor. As of 2007 a change was made in the Constitution and the legislation of the Saudi kingdom, but henceforth the king shall not appoint a successor, but a council will be established and the council will decide on who is the successor. And this council is made up of no less than twenty one brothers of the present king, all the sons of Abdulaziz, including grandsons. So they are many in number.

So it is very interesting to note that whereas there was no kingdom, now there is a kingdom. And to have a king with the same name and within our lifetime to know that now the idea of succession is lost and that there is a council. Now those who are familiar with how the Arabs tend to work and the system on which many of the Middle Eastern governments work, you would know that in the Middle East, every region and every government is ruled by a particular tribe. And very often a tribe would appease the other tribes in their own land by making sure that they are materially very well-off so that there is no political uprising against them. But in reality, there is not as much unity as meets the eye. And I could have given more specific examples, but perhaps it is not appropriate, but you will find this for yourself on the Internet.

Now, the books and the riwayat says that after this king dies, again a disclaimer, I do not know if it is this king or one come in the future. But after he dies, the people of Hijaz will never unite under one ruler. If a king is appointed, he will not rule for years, but he will rule for days and for months at most. And the tribes or the qaba'il of Hijaz will begin fighting for power among themselves, which is very, very easy to imagine, actually, if you understand how things operate in the Middle East.

In one tradition and riwaya, we are told that one of the signs of the dhuhoor of the Imam is a disturbance between the Haramain, between Mecca and Medina, and when the individual asked the Imam, what kind of a disturbance is this, the Imam said it is a tribal fight in which 15 prominent members of one tribe will be killed by another tribe between the two Harams.

By the time this sort of a disturbance happens in Hijaz, the Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq salawat Allahi wa as-salamu alayh [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad] says: "You the Muslims as well will be left without an Imam or without any unity or flag to gather under. Some of you will be cursing others and some of you will be distancing yourselves from each other. You will be tested and you will be tried. You will be filtered again and again until very few of you are left".

And hence in one riwayah it says when Islam began, it was ghareeb. It was a stranger. And Islam shall return and become ghareeb. It shall once again become a stranger. And just as you entered Islam "afwaja", in droves and groups and groups, so shall you leave Islam in droves "afwaja" again, groups and groups. Now this could mean in the literal sense where large numbers of people just turn away from Islam, or it could mean that in name everyone remains a Muslim. But ideologically and in our 'aqeeda, we take such a radical and extreme views that we become different groups while we are one community. And this is the result in part of not having an Imam, or not having a clear guide, or having lost individuals with true knowledge, or not having obedience and submission to these individuals who have a true understanding of Islam and a path of moderation, and of promoting individuals who are misguided, and therefore they become then the source of new groups and divisions forming.

At this point, while all this is happening in Hijaz and while Muslims are in disunity and confused in disarray, one of the greatest signs will then appear, which is the voice that we talked about. There are many different things about this voice that I do not wish to go into, because then we need to look at the riwayat and their authenticity. But what seems to be unanimous is that the voice will be heard from the heavens on the twenty third of the month of Ramadan. Whether it is the night of Ramadan or the day of Ramadan, I cannot verify that right now. But this voice will mention the name of the Imam and declare that he has returned.

And again, there are variations on what this voice will say. Some have simply said the voice will be the voice of Jibra'il 'alayhi as-salam, and he will declare that your Imam has returned, respond to him. Some will say that the voice will simply say: "Ja'a al-Haqq wa dhahaqa al-batil. Inna al-batila kana zahooqa"(17:81), which is a verse of the Qur'an saying Truth has come and falsehood is perished. Falsehood was a thing that was bound to perish.

In any case, this voice is heard and it is interesting that during the time of Imam al-Baqir, 'alayhi as-salam, the ruling Caliph [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad], the ruling Caliph who was called Al-Mansoor was also intrigued by this idea and this narration. And he talks to an individual called Saif bin Omayra. And he says to Saif bin Omayra, "Do you know that before the coming of the Mahdi, a voice will be heard calling the name of a man from the descendants of Abu Talib?". This individual Saif, who was close to the Caliph, he said to him, "Are you sure? I have never heard of anything so fantastic like this?"

To which Mansoor replies, and you can see that the enemy as well, his trust and his faith in the Imams from the Ahlul Bayt 'alayhim as-salam. This is Mansoor, the Caliph, who is saying this to Saif. He says: "sami'atuhu min Abu Ja'far Muhammad bin Ali, wa law yuhaddithuni bihi ahl il-ardh kullihim, ma qabiltuhu minhum, wa lakinnahu Muhammad bin Ali". I have heard this myself from Abu Jafar al-Baqir, 'alayhi as-salam, and had I heard this from the whole world and anyone else in the world I would not have believed this, but this I have heard directly from Muhammad bin Ali, peace be with him. Meaning, he says, I have absolutely no doubt that before the coming of the Imam or the final Savior of Islam, the Mahdi 'alayhi as-salam, a voice will be heard from the heavens calling out a name of a descendant of Abu Talib.

After this calling out now, we take a digression here. I said at the start of the lecture, I want you to see that there is ordinariness to everything that happens. The books are not very clear that when this voice is heard, how is it heard? Is it heard miraculously? Because it says that everyone will understand it in their own language. Or is it heard using some modern means and technology that will be available at that time?

There are individuals in the Shi'a community who will get very upset if you try and suggest that this is through technology. Because they are convinced that it is only happening through miraculous means. What I want you to be open to is the idea that it could happen either way and you will understand the importance of this inshaAllah, tomorrow day after, when we talk about the reasons why individuals might reject the Imam. So it is important to keep in mind that while many of these things appear amazing, and fantastic, and miraculous, they may come to us in very, very ordinary circumstances which may cause and lead individuals to doubt.

After this calling out, we are told the Imam will begin communicating first with only a few individuals among his helpers. But the news of his return will begin spreading around the world like wildfire. Rumors will go around and the world will begin talking about this saviour who has returned. This will cause many governments to panic, because of the rate at which people will talk and show eagerness for it. And in the books of riwayat, we are told that individuals will be so excited: "wa yashraboona hubbahu", they will drink from his love. Now, again, we shall talk about the implications of this more tomorrow, or the day after, but the enemies will be fearful of him and there will essentially be an attempt to hunt for this individual and to look for him at all costs.

And the rumors in the news will be that he is presently in Madina Al-Munawarra, which at the time will be true because he will be in Madina. And at that point, an army will move from Syria, which will be the army of Sufiyani towards Madina in an attempt to stop this individual to look for him and basically kill him. And at that point, we are told a lot of individuals will be killed on the suspicion that they are Shi'as. Many Shi'as will be killed in Madina. Many women and children will be taken as captives.

And we are told the Imam will leave Madina and head towards Mecca under circumstances where there is a lot of fear surrounding the area. So he will leave with a lot of caution and secrecy. And this will be the sunnah of the Prophet Musa, 'alayhi as-salam, because when Musa, 'alayhi as-salam, killed a man in Egypt and left Egypt under the same circumstances of caution and secrecy, the Qur'an says he left:"kha'ifan yataraqqab" (28:21). He left in a sense of fear, watching over his shoulder, in a sense being cautious not to reveal himself too much to people. And the Imam will do the same and come to Mecca.

In Mecca, he will establish contact with other helpers and aides. Again, notice how this is so ordinary at face value, something that you can relate to and understand. Yet it is miraculous behind the scenes. By the time he comes to Mecca and establishes himself there and begins communicating with some followers, we are now in the month of Muharram. Now, we are told in riwayat that on the night of Ashura, after Salat ul-'Isha, in Masjid ul-Haraam next to the Ka'aba, the Imam will openly declare himself as the Mahdi that the Muslims have been waiting for.

There will be an attempt, obviously, by individuals to stop him and to kill him even right there and then. This will be his first speech in Mecca and his helpers who will be with him, will stop him from being killed, and will basically overcome the enemies who are trying to harm him.

The next day, on the day of Ashura, the Imam will address the whole world at large, and he will invite them to come to his help and everyone will then listen to his address in their own language and again, the same issue. Does he address the whole world miraculously? Or does he address the whole world through a form of media, through some means of technology? You should be open to both ideas and we shall understand why in the days to come.

But there will obviously be different reactions to this, and there are individuals among the Shi'a communities of a certain mindset who have failed to understand the true message of Islam, what the Ahlul Bayt 'alayhim as-salam, stand for, what is the significance and the importance of the coming of the Mahdi and the role he plays in the evolution of human beings, because of which the reaction will be very predictable.

For example, one reaction that we can imagine is that "Today is the day of Ashura. We should not be engaging in anything political, today we should only be crying for Imam Husayn, so let us not listen to what this man has to say until tomorrow." Which will be very ironic, is not it? Because the Imam has come primarily one of his things, one of the things he represents is the avenging the murder of his grandfather, Imam Husayn, 'alayhi as-salam. This is a big part of the return of the Imam and his revolution. And because of that attitude and that mindset, there are individuals who will lose out on one of the greatest blessings that they could have ever imagined.

So there is a certain mindset, there is a certain thought process, and this is something that I have talked about again and again in all the years that I have preached here and elsewhere, that our failing and our swaying towards extremism either way, either in lacking, in catching up with Ahlul Bayt, 'alayhim as-salam, or exceeding and going overboard, is primarily because we love the Ahlul Bayt, 'alayhum as-salam, we want their fadha'il, we remember them and recite their masai'b, which is all very good, but we do not understand how they think.

Not that we can understand their level of thought. But what I mean is they have a certain Akhlaq, they have a certain value system, they have a certain code of ethics and morals, which you will only understand if you read their ahadith, if you read not just their fadha'il and masa'ib, but their teachings. And we begin practicing what they have encouraged us to practice. It is only when we do that, then our values and our ethics and our morals and our thought process begins to align with theirs. And then we begin to think the way they think within our capacity. It is only then that we relate to them in the real sense.

So we are not waiting for some superhuman who is not really the person who is coming. He may be superhuman in different ways. For example, he may be the greatest teacher of Tawhid in the world, but we are waiting for somebody who is going to show us certain types of miracles. Yet we have no concern about knowing God, for example. So this will also be something that we will talk about, inshaAllah, tomorrow, day after. And in the five or ten minutes that I have left for tonight, let us see what else we can bring out in these signs.

Now that the Imam has announced himself in Mecca, he will also announce that I will not leave Mecca until one of the greatest prophecies that my grandfather Rasul Allah, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad] that he had prophesied, until that comes true, I will not leave Mecca. And that prophecy is the prophecy of the Prophet of Islam, that an army will be swallowed in a landslide between Medina and Mecca. And this is the books the talk of the happening at Baida' or the outskirts of Madina.

So essentially the army of Sufiyani that left Damascus and came to Medina to chase the Imam. They will obviously find out that he is in Mecca and he has declared himself to the world, and is inviting the world to come to support his cause. And so they will now leave Medina and head towards Mecca. And as they come towards Mecca, somewhere between Medina and Mecca, where they camp, a landslide will take place that will swallow literally the whole army. And it will have a miraculous nature to itself, such that those who are left behind when they come forward to see what has happened, they will get swallowed as well. And those who have gone forward when they come back to see what has happened, they will get swallowed as well.

It is only when this has happened that the Imam will then take the next step. At this point, because of this vacuum of power in Hijaz, and the Imam having taken control of Mecca, that group of al-Yamani from Yemen, and if you look at the map, you will see the proximity of Yemen to Mecca, that group now joins under the leadership of Yamani and pledges allegiance to the Imam at Mecca. And there is an army of about 10,000 people now that includes the 313 elite Shi'as of the Imam. And this army of 10,000 now goes to Medina and there they meet some resistance from what is left of Sufiyani's army at Medina and they are overcome and the Imam essentially takes over Medina. So the Imam now has full control of Hijaz and Yemen.

From there, we are told, the Imam will now proceed towards Iraq. As he proceeds towards Iraq, on the way, he is met with the group or the army that has come from Iran, from Khorasan, that is led by al-Khorasani and Shu'ayb bin Salih. And there is a lot of details into that meeting as well. But it is well beyond the scope of these three days, and I did speak a little bit about it last year so that we are going to leave, definitely. But the the the important part to take from that is that the army now swells, because now that the Imam before reaching Iraq, he now has under his control Hijaz, Yemen and Iran with the groups of Al-Yamani and al-Khorasani, we said these were the two primary groups that would initially help the Imam.

And with this large army, the Imam now moves to Iraq, where again he is met with some resistance and there are some skirmishes and battles there. Again, not in the ordinariness of the fact and the humanness of the fact that there are battles that take place. And he establishes himself in Iraq and his capital is now the city of Kufa.

Now, there is a lot of what you might call poetic justice to this. Why? Because the grandfather of the Mahdi, 'alayhi as-salam, is Amir ul-Mu'minin Ali Ibn Abi Talib, salawat Allahi wa as-salamu alayh [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad], and the grandfather of Sufiyani is Mu'awiya. Mu'awiya's base was Damascus. Imam Ali's base was Kufa. They fought a major battle which was the battle of Siffin. Because of a group of hypocrites who were the Khawarij, that battle was left inconclusive, it never ended. That led to the formation of the Khawarij from whom came Ibn Muljim la'natullah 'alayh, who assassinated Imam Ali, 'alayhi as-salam. When they were on the verge of victory at the Battle of Siffin. So that inconclusive battle between Imam Ali 'alayhi as-salam, and Mu'awiya now will conclude because now history repeats itself where the descendant of Ali is established in Kufa and the descendant of Mu'awiya is established in Damascus as Sufiyani. And we shall see then what this turn takes.

OK, so I think this is a good place to stop, so that we have time to do wudhu as well in time for Salat. But at this point we see that the Imam has control of Hijaz in Yemen, and Iraq, and Iran, and we are told all the Gulf states and I want to conclude by just mentioning two points that you should keep in mind for before we continue tomorrow.

The first point is that the place that is of most interest to us at this point is Hijaz because everything begins with Hijaz. The vacuum of power in Hijaz, the beginning of events starts with Hijaz. We are also interested in al-Yamani and al-Khorasani and al-Sufiyani, but their coming is very close to the time of the Imam. Whereas the other events of the tribal feuds and the fights may happen before that. So that is one thing.

The other thing is the emphasis I have been making again and again, the ordinariness with which the events appear to be taking place, because this will play an important role in understanding why individuals might reject the Imam.

In fact, we have ahadith such as one from Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, salawat Allahi wa as-salamu alayh [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad], in which he says, that do not expect victory to come to you miraculously, you will have to fight for it, and it will come to you as you gain ground inch by inch. You will suffer setbacks just as your enemies suffer setbacks. There will be losses on your side, just as there are losses on the enemy's side. There will be many of you who will have to attain martyrdom as well and be killed as well. So there will be sacrifices to be made even on the side of the Muslims and even in the army of the Imam.

It is not simply a case of now that the Imam has come, there is only us to be winning wars and no harm and no sacrifices on our side. And this, again, is very, very significant in understanding some of the other matters that we shall be discussing inshaAllah tomorrow and the night after.

We pray to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala on these blessed nights inshaAllah that may Allah bless us, our homes, our centers with the presence and the baraka of Imam al-Mahdi, 'alayhi as-salam. We pray to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala that may He hasten the appearance of the Imam, and may we be blessed with martyrdom so that instead of dying an ordinary death on our beds, we may die while sacrificing ourselves for truth and for Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala under the banner of this Imam. We pray to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala that for as long as we live we may keep his presence alive in our hearts and in the hearts of our children, and that we may remember him every day and that he may truly make a change in our lives so that when we meet him, inshaAllah, he is proud to see us as a community and as individuals, as his Shi'as, Ameen ya Rabb Al-'Alameen.

Oh Allah, we ask You bi Haqq al-Imam al-Hujjah, we ask You, O Allah, to grant shifa' to those who are ill, and maghfira for all our marhumeen. “Rabbana taqabbal minna. Innaka anta as-Sami'u, Al-Aleem” (2:127).