The Coming Of The Mahdi (A) -2/3

Second 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. La siyama mawlana wa mawla al-kawnayn, al-Hujjat ibn il-Hasan, salawat Allahi wa as-salamu alayh [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). Salawat 'ala Muhammad wa aali Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad].

Tonight is our second gathering in our topic, which is the coming of the Mahdi 'alayhi as-salam, may Allah hasten his return, and these discussions are to mark the birth of our Imam. And we said yesterday that as a basis we are using this verse of the Qur'an from chapter 61 Surat us-Saff, verse nine, in which Allah says, He it is Allah who sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth so that it may prevail over all other ideologies and all other forms of religion, even if this is averse to the polytheists.

Now, last night, we began discussing the signs for the Imam, and we stopped at a point where we showed how through a sequence of events, the Imam, after having declared his return, his message spreads and he now has control over a large region within the Middle East that will include the present day Hijaz, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, and he basically establishes himself in Kufa, which is in Iraq, and that becomes his capital. And there are many narrations, again, with regards to Kufa and what happens after he establishes himself and how the believers vie against each other to possess a piece of land in Kufa and to own some property there and how he extends the mosque of Kufa and so on and so forth.

However, that is outside our discussions, and tonight we want to continue from that. Just as a quick note before we continue. We also mentioned yesterday a few interesting reactions from the world after the revolution of Iran in 1979, such as some novels and documentaries and movies that came forth discussing this idea of an Islamic redeemer or savior. And one of my brothers also pointed out to me a couple of other such publications that may be of interest to some of you. One is a sci-fi novel by Frank Herbert that was published in 1965 that is called Dune and the central character in this novel has a striking resemblance to the concept of the Mahdi in Islam. So some of you may already be familiar with this.

Another more recent publication is a book that was published just two years ago in 2007 by a Wall Street Journal correspondent, and it is called The Siege of Mecca. And yesterday, we mentioned a man by the name of Al-Otaibi who had taken siege or taken the haram hostage during the days of pilgrimage, and he had promoted his brother in law as the Mahdi. And after holding the Ka'ba in the haram for almost two weeks, he was then overcome. So this book discusses that uprising and it also tries to show how the government of Saudi Arabia itself was not as radical as it is today. And in many ways, it became radicalised and started adopting a stricter understanding or form of Islam after this uprising in 1979. And then the author tries to also show a connection with the Bin Laden family to say that the creation of al-Qaida has in some way a relationship to that uprising of the false Mahdi.

And it is interesting actually, if you go on the Internet and look at Wikipedia and search for the Mahdi, there is actually a list of individuals who claimed to be the Mahdi in different centuries and different eras. So there is a listing to say who are the individuals who claimed to be the Mahdi in the 17th century, 16th century, 18th century, 19th, 20th and so on. And then to each one of those names, there is a history that you can go and read on. And so it is obviously very fascinating and wide area that you could research on if you are interested.

But in staying within our original plan to discuss the signs and then talk about what are the reasons why individuals might reject the coming of the Imam, we continue and say that after the Imam has established himself in Iraq, in Kufa, and having been joined by the groups and forces from al-Yamani and Khorasani as well, we are told from traditions and riwayat of a major war or battle that takes place with the Turks, basically with Turkey.

And the author that I have been referring to and mentioned yesterday as well, in his research over the years, he says that at one point he used to believe that wherever the ahadith and riwayat refer to the Turks, that was actually a reference to the Russians, because he felt at the time, in the earlier years when he was writing the book, that wherever eastern regions or Eastern Europe or certain parts of the Middle East were mentioned, it generally referred to the Turk, to the Russians because of the physical description that we are given of these individuals.

There are some groups of people where the country is not mentioned, but just the type of the people are mentioned. For example, the riwayat might say "there will come forth an army of people whose shoes will be made of hair" or "who will wear fur clothes" or "who will have eyes that are small" or "the yellow skinned" and so on and so forth. And so people have tried to understand, is this a reference to the Chinese or to the Mongols or to the Russians and so on and so forth.

However, this researcher Sheikh Ali Kourani in his recent writing in the 11th edition of his book, he says he is convinced now that when the ahadith and riwayat says that the Turk or the Turkish, it actually refers to Turkey. And therefore, it appears then that there would be a battle with Turkey against the Imam's army, which would obviously have grown to a larger number after being joined with the group from Khorasan.

And the Imam, now because he has come with a divine mission and he has set the ball rolling to establish peace and justice on the Earth and remove all forms of injustices, any force that comes against him will be vanquished and overcome. And so Turkey is then taken again within that fold of that Islamic government. So now you have, apart from Yemen and Hijaz and Iran and Iraq [wa aleykum as-salam] and all the other states we mentioned previously, the Gulf states, you now have Turkey as well.

From here now the opposition and the battles take a more apocalyptic scenario because now it involves people not just based on their nationality or the country, but based on their faiths, and largely the faiths that Islam recognises as religions is really Judaism and Christianity, which the Qur'an refers to time and again as the People of the Book.

Now, we are told in the riwayat that thereafter the Imam will head towards Quds, which would be Palestine, and he will then face the army of Sufiyani. Now Sufiyani we said would invade Palestine and then he would establish himself in Damascus and that would be his capital. But it appears that his major battle against the Imam will take place when the Imam is heading towards Quds.

And it is interesting to also note that initially there are some discussions that take place between Sufiyani and the Imam. And in some traditions and reports, we are told that Sufiyani is on the verge of surrendering to the Imam and negotiating with him. But there are certain groups, certain Western powers, who the riwayat simply refer to as the Romans. Now, obviously, at the time that the Imams were narrating these traditions, there was not a concept of US or UK or Canada or West as we know it today. So in those traditions, all these regions in the West were simply referred to as the Rum or the people of Rum, al Rum. There is even a chapter in the Qur'an called Surat ul-Rum. And the modern day scholars generally understand that whenever ahadith say the Romans or Rum, it refers to the Westerners of today.

So without knowing exactly which Western powers these are, we know that there are some quote unquote, "Romans" and a group from the Yahud - now the Yahud is generally the Jews. But keeping in mind that not necessarily all the Jews are in favour of opposing Islam in a military sense, there are groups of Jews even today who are Orthodox in their belief, and a large number of them reside in Iran as well and they actually support the government of Iran and are opposed to the state of Israel. So many a times when riwayat speaks of the Jews, we may understand it to be the Zionists really.

So the riwayat then say that these Jews or Zionists, along with the Western powers, will move Sufiyani in a different direction. They will promise him military support and instead encourage him to fight the Imam as a result of which there will be a major global war. The battlefield in this war, we are told, will extend from Akka. Akka is a city on the coast of occupied Palestine or Israel, if you like, from Akka to Antakya in Turkey and from a place called Tabria all the way to Damascus and the entire inside of Quds. So that whole region is inflamed with war.

And the riwayat say that the wrath of God will descend upon these people who oppose the Imam and they will be vanquished. And the ahadith are very, very graphic here that we may understand in a symbolic manner. For example, there are traditions that say that even if one of them is hiding behind a rock, the rock will call out to the Muslim army or soldiers and say to them, "there is an enemy hiding behind me, come and get him". So we may understand this in whatever sense we like, whether it is literal or symbolic. But the idea is to show that not just not any of them will be left. They will either surrender or they will be overcome.

Now this global war, when it obviously ends and the enemy is defeated, it will anger those who are left in the West or among the quote unquote, "Romans", who we are told in the riwayat now would be largely the Christians. A lot of the Christian groups even today who you find are very supportive of Israel, despite all of the injustices that the state of Israel might be committing, you will find that their support is largely due to this biblical understanding that the Jews are the chosen people of God or the children of Israel. That is where they take that idea from. And the Qur'an talks of the Jews of having been chosen at one point by God. But then that is a long discussion to say what they did to lose that status as well.

So we are then told in ahadith after this group of Westerners and Jews are defeated, this will anger a Christian group in the West and they will start declaring a war against the Imam. Before the Muslims get into a war with the Christians, another major sign will appear. And this will be the descent of Nabi Isa or Jesus, peace be upon him. Now this will be a sign that the Muslims have been waiting for and the books of ahadith are replete with this, that this is a major, major sign and a great indication and proof of the Mahdi as well, that Nabi 'Isa 'alayhi as-salam, returns and is a great support for the Imam because he speaks in support of the Imam and he also becomes a mediator between the Christian groups and the Muslims.

So we are told now that Jesus, peace be upon him, or Nabi Isa 'alayhi as-salam, negotiates with the Christian groups, he convinces them of his identity. And through that discussion, a seven year treaty is then signed between the Muslims and this group of Christians. However, we are told at the end of the seven years, and according to some narrations within two years, this group from the West violates this treaty. And they raise an army against the Mahdi 'alayhi as-salam.

Now, some have believed, some scholars have understood this to believe that this violation of the treaty will be because of the fact that Nabi Isa 'alayhi as-salam himself will be propagating the idea of Islam. And there are many, many riwayat, again that you could understand symbolically if you like, that says that when Isa 'alayhi as-salam returns, he will break the cross and kill the swine. There is a lot of this repeating in traditions. He will break the cross and kill the swine.

And what this means is that in the early days of Islam, these were two distinguishing attributes by which the Christians were famous. The fact that Muslims did not consume pork and the Christians did. And the fact that Christians believe that Jesus was crucified. So in saying that he will break the cross and kill the swine, the idea is to show that he will basically refute this and prove to the Christians that this that they have believed was not true, that he never claimed to be the son of God, that he was never crucified, and that he never permitted them to eat from the flesh of the swine or pork.

And the 'ulama who have researched this said that perhaps because of his preaching and the large number of Christians who will change their faith and come into the fold of Islam, understanding Islam and deen as that one true monotheistic religion that was the original Islam that Adam and Nuh and Ibrahim and all the other anbiyya' 'alayhum as-salam had preached, they will come into the fold of that one religion that the Mahdi 'alayhi as-salam, establishes as the religion of Allah, the "deen il-haqq li yudhhirahu 'ala ad-deeni kullih" (61:9).

And because of this preaching, those who are obviously not happy about that large conversion and the way things are turning, they will raise an army against the Imam and that army will also be a huge army in itself. In one tradition, we are told they will raise 80 flags, each flag will or each standard will have an army of 12, 000. When you do the math of 80 times 12, 000 you are close to one million. And so there is an army of about a million that now stands in opposition to the Imam.

At this point, again we are told from the riwayat that Nabi Isa 'alayhi as-salam, will publicly declare that he is on the side of the Mahdi 'alayhi as-salam, and that he will publicly pledge his allegiance to the Imam and pray behind him at Quds. And so we have these riwayat both in the books of the Shi'a and the Sunni, where the Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad], where he said to the Muslims: What will your condition be when your Imam is amongst you and Isa 'alayhi as-salam prays behind your Imam. In other words, he is a follower of your Imam, he is the ma'moon to your Imam.

And a massive war will then commence, and this will again extend from Akka to Antakya, from Damascus to Quds. And the Muslims again, we are told in riwayat will have a clear victory over this as well, because this is now a movement that will just keep snowballing and getting larger and larger. And yet, as we said yesterday, this is not even the real purpose for which the Imam is here. This is simply cleaning or a cleansing or a sweeping off of the Earth, if you like, in order to establish justice and peace and to establish a unified religion that is based on Tawhid, before the real work begins that we shall talk about shortly.

Now, we are told then that the West or the Romans, which would then be Europe or whatever is left of the West and the Christian West, will then surrender to Nabi Isa 'alayhi as-salam, and to the Mahdi 'alayhi as-salam, and the whole region as well will come into the fold of Islam, which will be the new world order, if you like.

Shortly thereafter, we are told that Nabi Isa 'alayhi as-salam, will pass away, so he will, his demise happens in the lifetime of the Imam, and the Imam 'alayhi as-salam, will lead the funeral for Nabi Isa 'alayhi as-salam. The Salat ul-Mayyit will be led by the Imam. His funeral will be publicized and made so public that everyone in the world is able to see and hear so that no one may ever again ascribe divinity to him and say that he is not dead or that he is the son of God and so on and so forth. And then there are details to his funeral as well, such as, for example, his shroud will be from a cloth that was stitched by his own mother, Siddiqa Maryam 'alayha as-salam, and that he will be buried in Quds next to his mother or he will be buried in Medina, next to the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him and his family.

Now, once the world is then filled with this justice and peace and the prophecy of Rasul Allah salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam, then takes pass in which he says that the world will not come to an end until a man comes forth from my descendants whose name shall be my name, "yamla'u al-ardha qistan wa 'adla kama muli'at dhulman wa jawra". He will fill the earth with peace and equity as it had been filled with injustices and oppression. This prophecy then takes comes to pass and the whole planet is now based on one religion, one monotheistic understanding of worshiping only one God, ascribing no partner to Him with justice.

And then this ayat of Qur'an that we have been reciting: "Huwa al-ladhi arsala Rasulahu bi 'l-huda wa deen il-haqq" (61:9) (9:33), He it is who sent His messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, "li yudhhirahu 'ala ad-deeni kullih" (61:9) (9:33), that is also fulfilled, it prevails over all other forms of religions that have different forms of polytheism, "wa law kariha al-mushrikoon"(61:9) (9:33), even if the polytheists are averse to this. In other words, there is no room for anyone to believe in anything else then.

Now it is only after this that the real work of the Imam begins. And this is where it is most important that we position ourselves mentally and understand that what is it that the Imam has come to do? Because if it was simply a question of fighting battles and overcoming the enemy and establishing a government, and then after the Imam is gone, for example, everything goes back to how it was before, then it really has not achieved much. It is just a fleeting a nd a few years of peace.

But there is a change that now takes place that changes how human beings work and think and behave, and that change is lasting and forever. Materially, human beings will learn to live without fear and greed. If you look at the world we live in today, if you look at the economics of today, you will find that from the stock markets to the banking system to how we do business, it is entirely based on fear and greed. And that way of life, where everything operates on the basis of fear and greed, is what shackles human beings and stops them from going forward and becoming more than just the social political animal that people like to call human beings.

The true potential and worth of human beings will begin to show itself when human beings learn to live and to trade and to coexist and to work without being driven by fear or greed. So that is from the material side.

From the politics side as well, the politics of how human beings live with today is about controlling each other, about dominating, about one group having a say in how other people live or the values that one, the society has is controlled and promoted by one group or one political party. That changes as well, so that only the understanding of Allah is that which human beings live by.

So spiritually then human beings learn to live by removing all forms of shirk and all forms of polytheism and all empty rituals that prevent human beings from understanding and recognising who Allah is and a true understanding of Tawhid.

And this is beautifully demonstrated in Suratul Noor which is Chapter 24 of the Qur'an, verse 55, in which Allah declares, and that in itself is a prophecy and a proof of the coming of a Mahdi. And in this ayah, chapter 24, verse 55, Allah says: "Wa'ad Allahu alladheena amanu minkum wa 'amilu as-salihat" (24:55) , Allah makes a promise to those among you who believe and do good, He makes a promise to you. "La yastakhlifannahum fi 'l-ardh kama stakhlaf alladheena min qablihim" (24:55), He shall make you the rulers of the Earth as He made those before you. "Wa la yumakinannahum deenahum alladhee irtadha lahum"(24:55), and that He will establish for them the religion that He has chosen for them and that He is pleased with, "wa la yubadillanahum min ba'di khawfihim amna"(24:55), - and that He shall change for them after a state of fear they shall know a state of tranquility and peace, "ya'bidoonani la yushrikoona be shay'a"(24:55), they shall worship Me and Me alone and not associate anyone with Me, and the ayah then makes a conclusion.

So this is a profound ayah where Allah says, I promise that I shall do this and this will only happen obviously, when such a personality is present to make that change happen. And it does not happen by forcing people to worship Allah or to accept Islam, but it happens by broadening their understanding and showing them what is it that stops them from growing and what is the real message that all the anbiya' and mursalin and A'imma came and stood for.

We are told in ahadith that if you can think of every form of knowledge that human beings could possess as the letters of the alphabet, which are twenty seven in Arabic, then all the knowledge that human beings would have accumulated from the time of Adam 'alayhi as-salam, until the coming of the Mahdi is the equivalent of two letters. So all the technology we know today, all the advancements that we have made in science, in the medical field, in space travel, in all the different technologies that we know today, it will not exceed two letters in comparison to twenty seven, as far as human beings will progress.

Keeping in mind that also the sciences that human beings have had at different stages, was also promoted by the anbiyya'. Human beings always came to a stage where they were not able to move forward unless the anbiyya' pushed them forward and took them to the next level.

For example, when Adam 'alayhi as-salam, came to the Earth, we know from the Qur'an that he was covering himself with the leaves of trees. It was Nabi Idris 'alayhi as-salam, who invented the cloth and taught human beings how to stitch cloth. It was Nabi Idris 'alayhi as-salam, who taught human beings how to write, and that took a huge advancement to human beings. By being able to write and preserve their history and knowledge, they were able to pass this from generation to generation.

Then human beings came to their own land and they reached the coast of their land and they were not able to discover new land. It was Nuh 'alayhi as-salam, through building of the ark that he introduced human beings to the art of building ships. So shipbuilding then took human beings to new levels of sciences and advancements.

In fact, up until the Second World War, the common way of traveling was through ships, was not it? A lot of our grandparents will tell you when they went for Hajj and when they traveled they travelled by ship. The British were superpowers before the United States because they ruled the seas, the British Empire. It was the United States that became superpowers because they were then able to show air power as opposed to power in the seas. So traveling by air is really not that old as it may appear to be.

And you see these, for example, human beings worked with wood, for example, and stone. It was Dawood 'alayhi as-salam, who introduced human beings to the art of melting iron because he had the miracle of melting iron, is it not? We recite in du'as: Ya mulayyin al-hadeedi li Dawood 'alayhi as-salam. So when you look at all these things, you will find that from medicine to technology at different stages where human beings were not able to move forward, Allah through his prophets and messengers introduced human beings to different forms and different sciences such as Sulayman and Dawood and so on and so forth.

And along those same lines then, all the knowledge that human beings will have accumulated, even though they may not be showing gratefulness and acknowledging and paying tribute to these messengers and the fact that Allah has been giving them the ground and the means and the foundation to grow in their knowledge, this knowledge will stop at just two letters. The Mahdi 'alayhi as-salam, will complete the knowledge of human beings. He will take human potential to new heights and add twenty five letters to the two. So if you do the math and look at it from a percentage, it is astounding how far he will take human beings, and he will add it to those two and complete it to twenty seven letters. So this again tells us that it is perhaps beyond our imagination how far human beings would progress in science.

And that is why then we should not be amazed or surprised when we see different riwayat [traditions] that talk of things that appear fantastic to us. For example, we have riwayat to say that there are other planets where intelligent life forms exist and the Mahdi 'alayhi as-salam, will establish communication with those planets and those other beings and allow human beings to communicate with them.

Or there are riwayat that say that human beings will be able to travel in space freely or, for example, riwayat that say that the bringing back of the dead back to life will become a common thing and that it will become very common for the dead to come back to life. Or the riwayat that say that some of the Prophets and the anbiya' will come back to life and they will rule on the Earth for as long as Allah wishes. And the concept of Raj'at, where the Imams come back and so on and so forth. Salawat 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad]. All such narrations essentially show us that human beings will truly know what Allah had intended for them with the coming of the Mahdi 'alayhi as-salam.

Now, there were certain things that I had discussed at great length last year on the same occasion, I will just mention in brief and in passing, how does the Imam eliminate this tendency to live by fear and greed? And in mentioning this again in passing, because it was discussed in detail last year, one of the things that is commonly shown in ahadith is that the Imam will bring forth the treasures from the Earth, and he will give people so much that they will not have room to store all the treasures. He will announce to people and say, come and take as much as you want.

So the world we live in today is we constantly seek more for ourselves. If we can get something after what we need, we collect more and we hoard thinking we might need it in the future. So we are driven by greed. Supposing there was so much of what we need, so that there was no room to keep that, then at some point that thing would lose value, isn't it? If money is important to me, I could collect as much as I can take. But at some point, if it just becomes a meaningless number, then there is no point in me asking for it. Or if it was in the form of gold coins, and I could take so much that at some point I cannot store that gold in my house and the streets are littered with it, then it would lose its value.

So the Imam will take human beings to this point where after having, initially human beings will react as they naturally do, and they will come forth and take as much as they can. But when they realise that the wealth is not going anywhere, and there is so much of it that people do not know what to do with it, then they will stop acting on greed and in fear. There will be no need for that anymore.

Now, the question that will arise after that is that what then would be the reason for human beings to earn a living, for example? Because today, when we go in earn a living, we do so out of a need. And the examples we gave last year is to say, for example, if my job is to work at a gas station, for example, I get up early morning and work there because I need to earn a living to support my family. If someone's job is to collect the waste of the garbage, he does so because he needs to support his family. So we all get up early in the morning. We do this. We do that. We strive to earn a living. Supposing there was so much wealth that nobody knew what to do with it, then why would anybody go to work?

Which means then that human beings would have to change how they think. They would have to come to a point where they learn how to go and work and serve humanity out of the love of Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala. Human beings would have to learn to go and work and have a system continuing in place so that you do something to support me, I do something to support you in order to keep society functioning, only out of the love of Allah and the creation and humanity, not because I want something or I need something. And then there are many ahadith to talk about how life would then function along those lines and how the Imam would eliminate the common things that prevent human beings from progressing, like illnesses and other forms of social ills.

There is also a discussion about another important sign in the books of ahadith, and that is the sign of Dajjal. Now, with the discussion on Dajjal, it is very difficult to pinpoint when exactly this creature or person appears. If you compare this with Christian eschatology, you will find a striking resemblance with the concept of the Antichrist. Dajjal literally means one who deceives people and in many books of ahadith, he is called Masih al Dajjal, Maseeh being the Messiah, as in the Christ. So he is the Deceiving Christ, if you like. So from the Christian books, they tend to compare Jesus with the Antichrist to show an individual who comes forth and who appears to be working for the good of humanity and bringing peace. But he actually has another agenda, which is to enslave human beings and then finally to claim divinity for himself.

If you compare this to Islamic texts, you will find a similar idea that an individual comes forth who somehow takes control of the economy. The words in ahadith literally say that he controls the food and the water, which actually would mean he controls the economy, and that he brings humanity to a point where they either have to choose to submit to him in order to get that food and water in order to survive, or if they oppose him, then they are killed or they face starvation.

What is not clear, though, is at what point this Dajjal appears. Some scholars have understood that he appears long before the coming of the Imam. We know from riwayat some traditions say that human beings have never been tested the way they will be tested with the coming of Dajjal. Some riwayat say that Rasul Allah, salla Allahu alayhi wa alihi wa sallam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad], he used to seek refuge with Allah from Dajjal. He used to take out the tasbeeh and say, "A'oodhu bi-Llah min fitnat al-Dajjal". I seek refuge with Allah from the mischief of Dajjal.

Now, some of the 'ulama however believe that his coming actually happens after the coming of the Mahdi 'alayhi as-salam, and the way they position this is the reason why Dajjal's coming is so dangerous and the reason why he is able to mislead so many people is because of some of the miracles, if you like, he performs to convince people of his own divinity that he is God. And these 'ulama who believe he comes after the Mahdi believe so on the basis that, when this knowledge spreads, these 27 letters of knowledge, if you like, this individual who is described simply as Dajjal, he has access to some of this knowledge that he misuses. And because of that, he is able to mislead a large number of people.

And we know from ahadith that he is defeated and he is killed either by the Mahdi 'alayhi as-salam, or by Nabi Isa 'alayhi as-salam. And there are some riwayat that even pinpoint the place exactly where he is killed, and so on and so forth. So there is a complete discussion on Dajjal. And then other things that you hear of time and again is Ya'juj and Ma'juj, which in the Bible are described as Gog and Magog and so on. And those are all again lengthy discussions that would really make these three days only a discussion on signs and eschatology and so on and so forth.

However I wish to stop at this point discussing the signs and shift the discussion now to the second phase. Because I think in terms of understanding the sequence of events, this suffices seeing from the time of the Imam declaring his return in Mecca near the Ka'ba, right to the time where he establishes peace and takes human beings to new heights and new levels of understanding. So we now take our discussion to a new, to a different phase. And we now want to talk about what are the reasons that those who might hear of the coming of the Imam, the reasons they might still oppose the Imam or reject him. If you can recite a salawat 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad].

Now the reasons are many, obviously, and I am sure you can think of others yourself, but I have some seven reasons that we may not complete tonight, and we will discuss the rest tomorrow, whatever we do not finish. But these are more just to get us thinking along those lines. And there is also a reason why I thought it appropriate to discuss the reasons why people would reject him, rather than to discuss the qualities for which people would accept him. Because a lot of times the truth cannot be described or understood in words. Truth can be realised. It cannot be spoken of. Each individual must find the truth himself, must discover and journey and realise those truths themselves. Otherwise, those who are enlightened, who came before us would simply write it in words. We would read them and become enlightened.

You see that right from the basis on which Islam tries to explain the most fundamental concept, which is God, it does not tell you who God is. It asks you to, when you wish to be a Muslim, all you do is you remove all others besides God. You start by saying "La ilaha", there is no other God, "illa Allah." But to know Allah is not something that can be explained to you. Even if we were trying to understand who Allah is, it would be easier for me to talk about who is not Allah. So along those lines then, we are talking about what are the reasons for which people would reject the Imam, and hopefully through that we would understand the opposite, which is the reasons for which we might accept him.

One of the reasons would be that initially when the Imam makes his appearance and announces his coming back, people will come towards him seeking relief without realising that this relief will not be immediate, there are sacrifices to be made and there is suffering that must be experienced and there is suffering involved before that peace and tranquility is established. In other words, the Imam does not come and then just as I said yesterday, just wave a magic wand and everything is fine. The Imam comes to lead people, but the people must fight and struggle and strive and sacrifice to establish that with his guidance.

If we try and draw a parallel of this to the previous Muslims in the early days of Islam, a very good example would be the Battle of Uhud. When you study the Battle of Uhud, you will see that prior to that, when the Muslims were suffering intensely, they were constantly praying to Allah for relief. And they were saying, why does not Allah give us permission to fight against the enemy? For 12 years, the Messenger of Allah preached in Mecca and the Muslims were persecuted and they kept praying to Allah: Oh Allah, give us permission to fight back, give us permission to defend ourselves, give us permission to fight in Your way and achieve martyrdom. And they were not given this permission.

When they were finally given that permission, very much after the first Battle of Badr, in the Battle of Uhud, most of them ran away. Which showed that what you see with the tongue is not necessarily what comes from the heart. And Allah in fact mentions this precise idea in Surah Aale Imran, chapter three, verse 143 Allah says: "Wa laqad kuntum tamannawn al-mawt min qabli an talqawhu fa qad ra'aytamoohu" (3:143). It was you who used to yearn and long for death, so now surely you have seen it with your eyes. And that is the state that we find ourselves today, isn't it? We all pray: Allahuma 'ajil farahaju, Oh Allah hasten his reappearance, oh Allah human beings are suffering. Look at our brothers in Palestine. Look at our brothers here and there. When shall we get relief? Why doesn't the Imam return? We wish we could attain martyrdom and shahadat and so on.

The point is when it happens, the reaction might be different. And Allah says the same in Surah Aale Imran verse 167. That when the people who then had been praying for martyrdom, some of them who are hypocrites, when they were told come now and fight in the way of God, they said if we knew there was fighting, we would not have become Muslims (3:167). This is verse 167, you can go read it for yourself, chapter three. If we knew there was fighting, we would not have become Muslims. Now, Allah responds to that. He says on the day when they said this, they were closer to Kufr than they were to Iman. They were closer to being faithless than to be faithful.

And so this is one reason that in seeking relief, we must not expect that it will be easy. We must be willing to really, as we say, walk the talk. The other reason that human beings might not accept the Imam or join him when they should is that by the time he returns, they will have seen so much strife and war and turmoil that many of them will become fed up with the whole idea of striving anymore or fighting or going to war, even if it is for the sake of God. In fact, many will have reached a point where they will be seeking relief through death. They will be praying to Allah for death rather than wanting to go and fight anymore.

And they will not realise that this is different. Now, just to give you a very quick idea of some of the things that happened before the Imam comes, even though we have talked about the signs. We said yesterday and previously as well that sin and immorality would be widespread before the coming of the Imam. Atheism flying in the face of God, denying the existence of God will be open and blasphemy will not even be considered blasphemy. People will either stop believing in God altogether or will change religion to such a degree to suit their own beliefs that it will not even be the original Islam.

Large groups of individuals, including Muslims, will become like straws in the wind, where any caller who calls them to anything, they will believe in it. Today, one calls them this way, they go this way, tomorrow somebody calls them that way, they will go that way. There will be no basis and criteria to identify what is haqq from what is batill, what is truth from what is falsehood. And this may be perhaps because of abandoning the Qur'an or because of not continuing to maintain respect and acknowledging the 'ulama, whatever the reason might be.

We know also from ahadith that before the coming of the Imams, the Muslims will be oppressed across the world. And many Muslim lands will be taken over by non-Muslims and by their enemies, they will either be overthrown or they will be ruled behind the scenes by others as puppets. In particular, the ahadith mention Palestine, and they talk of the fitna of Filisteen, which is very interesting because these riwayats are 1200 and 1400 years old. But there is a repeated mention of Palestine as being under constant strife and being taken by the enemies of Islam. So the fitna of Filisteen is mentioned again and again in riwayat. And the fact that Muslims will not only be killed by their enemies, but they will kill themselves, each other as well. There will be wars between the Turks and the Romans. There will be wars that will cover the Muslim nations. The Arabs will fight one another.

One of the signs we mentioned last year as well was that in one riwayat, it says that before the coming of the Mahdi, two thirds of the human population will be wiped out. Now granted, this is not one of those definite signs like the voice that is heard in the heavens and the killing of Nafs al-Zakiya and the landslide in Baida and the Khorasani and Yamani and Sufiyani. It is not listed with those definite signs, but it is mentioned quite a bit in the books. So whether it happens like that or does not happen for any other reason, we do not know.

But it is described very graphically by Imam Ja'far Al-Sadiq salawat Allahi wa as-salamu alayh [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad]. He says there will be three, there will be a white death and a red death. The white death will kill one third of the human population. The red death will kill one third of the human population. When he was asked what this is, he said the white death will be death to hunger and drought and plague and disease and so on and so forth, through epidemics and pandemics and so on. The red death will be - so the white death in part will also be through natural disasters. And the red death will be through war, and through fighting, and through killing, and through murder, the red symbolising blood.

And by the time nations have fought nations, there will be no superpower because everybody will be so weak and in part that war might also bring about disease. And this is a significant number of the human population. I mean today, when you talk of bird flu and mad cow and swine flu, even those who talk of pandemics, they are talking of millions dying or hundreds of millions dying. They are not talking of billions dying. We are talking if this were to happen today, that in a population of six, seven billion, we are talking of two billion people dying of disease, or drought, or hunger, or natural disasters, and another two billion dying of war. So this would have to be war that is on a global scale, catastrophic, like a third or fourth world war.

And so keeping all this in mind, this is a reason why people might reject the Imam being fed up and having - because life will not necessarily be the way we see today when the Imam comes. We may not even have jobs to be going to. We might all be in regions that are torn by war or disease or in curfews, for example.

In one riwayat from Imam Muhammad al-Baqir salawat Allahi wa as-salamu alayh [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad], he says the one who will rise will not rise except in a condition of severe fearfulness and turmoil and mischief and afflictions that will cover human beings. Before that, there will be pestilence and there will be disease and there will be droughts and the Arabs will fight among themselves and people will disagree and fight among themselves constantly. Their condition will change until people will pray for death to Allah day and night. They will see unbelievable changes in human beings, in how they behave and how they live and how some of them will be eating others.

Now, how some of them will eat others can be interpreted in two ways. Some have interpreted it symbolically, to say how some will take complete and shamelessly take advantage of others just to survive. The whole survival of the fittest theory. The other is a more literal interpretation to say that starvation will reach such a point that human beings will become cannibals in some places and will literally eat human flesh to survive.

And there are riwayat, there is some narrations to say that before the Qa'im returns, there will be a year of severe hunger, and a lot of fear among human beings. And this state of fear and hunger will continue until the voice that is heard on the twenty third night of Ramadan that we spoke about yesterday. There are some riwayat that says that hunger will reach to such an extent that a man will sell his daughter for a loaf of bread. And do not be surprised by this, because I remember a couple of months back reading on one of the news, respected news sources, that in places like India, this is happening today. There are families who are confessing to having sold their daughters to people for a hundred dollars, two hundred dollars. So we are talking of global starvation and hunger. And this is just before the coming of the Imam.

So this is a second major reason that mentally we need to really change how we think the world will be. It would not necessarily be the way we see today. Our lives might change, our values might change. We may not behave as human beings, as civil human beings, so that when the Imam returns, it would not be surprising that large numbers of people would be so fed up with even the idea of responding to someone who is calling them to more fighting and more war and establishing peace and justice, because they have heard this over and over again and been disappointed. Every government that comes talks about promising peace and tranquility and eliminating poverty and hunger, and nobody does anything. So there will be people who will have lost that confidence at all.

OK, now we will talk about towards the end, maybe tomorrow on what then is the way to prepare and be sure of identifying and responding to the Imam. So this is the second reason being fed up with the idea of struggling anymore. A third reason that might take a little bit of time to explain, but I think nonetheless is very, very important to discuss is a complete dependency on miracles. There are a large number of individuals among the Muslims who have this concept and idea that the only way to identify the true Imam is through miracles. This is not to say that the Imam is incapable of performing miracles or that he will not perform them. But it is very, very important that we understand for ourselves and we train our children to understand as well that when you wish to prove something as being true or false, you do not do it on the basis of miracles.

Now, I wish to just talk about this concept of what role does a miracle play and can you really prove anything with a physical sign or a miracle? Just for a bit with evidence from the Qur'an. We see, for example, the previous generations who expected miracles to happen for the sake of truth. In the Battle of Uhud, the same Surah Aale-Imran, there were groups of people who expected that because we are with the Messenger of Allah, we can only win. There has to be victory for us. So when they suffered losses because of their own greed in the Battle of Uhud, one of the things some of them said was, had this Prophet been the real prophet and had this religion been the true religion, we would not have been killed the way we were killed. To which the Qur'an says that Allah kept His promise, but it was you who broke your side of the bargain by being greedy for the spoils of war. Avert death from yourself if you are truthful (3:154). This is chapter three, verse 154. OK, so the Qur'an is very clear that do not expect miracles for successes. Allah expects you as human beings to struggle for the truth and establish it, not through miracles.

If we go even further back and look at the previous prophets and how their people behaved, look at for example, the Jews to whom the Prophet Musa, ala an-nabi' 'alayhi as-salam, was sent. They saw some astounding miracles, which we can perhaps not even imagine to ever see in our lifetime. Take for example, the miracle they saw of a staff being changed into a serpent. Or take for example, the miracle of the parting of the sea. Can you imagine, many of you may have seen a sea or an ocean, I know there are some who have never lived out out of Ontario and they have never seen anything but a lake. But I am sure you have seen an ocean even on television. And if you are standing at the shores of an ocean and the sea begins to part in front of your eyes and you are walking on the sea bed now, and there are walls of water besides you that rise up like mountains, and you walk across this, what more would you want than this as evidence? Yet after having seen this miracle, this still went and worshiped a calf. And they turned away from God.

So this is the first glimpse that makes us wonder, can physical signs really give you concluding evidence and a conviction that will never make you turn away from the truth? And there is an interesting incident that is narrated in Nahjul Balagha, that during the khilafa of Amir al-Mu'minin Ali Ibn Abi Talib, salawat Allahi wa as-salamu alayh [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad], a Jew came to the Imam, and he tried to mock Islam in the presence of the Imam. He said to him: "Oh Ali, you Muslims, your Prophet died, you had not even buried him when you started fighting among yourselves." That was his argument.

The reply of the Imam, astounding and beautiful, because when it comes to defending Islam, Imam Ali 'alayhi as-salam, does not take - as most of us would do, most of us would have said, "actually, it was my right, but they did not give me my right and so on." He is defending Islam. Look at the answer he gives. He says, "We argued about who should succeed our Prophet, but we did not argue about the message that our Prophet brought. Whereas you Jews, the mud in your sandals after walking across the ocean had not even dried when you said to your Prophet, make for us a God to worship like these idol worshipers have a god".

And this is in the Qur'an where Allah says in Suratul A'raf, chapter seven, verse 138, "Qalu ya Musa ij'al lana ilahan kama lahum alihatan" (7:138). As soon as they crossed the sea, they saw a group of people worshiping an idol. They said, Oh Moses, make for us an idol so that we too may worship it like they worship. And he said to them, surely you are an ignorant people. So that in itself was an astounding miracle, but it still did not stop them. And then after that, he goes up the mountain for 40 days to bring the commandments and they still build a calf of their own out of gold and they start worshiping it. So if you believe that miracles will bring conviction, then there is a serious misjudgment there.

In Suratul Nisa', chapter four, verse 153, Allah says the People of the Book, the Ahlul Kitab, they say to you that if you are true in your claim, cause a book to descend from the heavens. Oh Muhammad, if you are true, make a book come down from the heavens. And then Allah says to the Prophet, He says, and yet they asked Musa for even greater than this. They said to Musa show us Allah so that we may see him with our naked eyes. "Arina Allaha jahratan. Thumma ittakhadhul 'ijla min ba'di ma ja'at hum al-bayinah"(4:153). And then they took to worshiping a calf after they had seen clear signs. So despite all the signs. He took them up the mountain, they said we want to see Allah. They were told, look at this mountain, if it stands in its place, you will see Me. The mountain shatters, they faint, they die, they are brought back to life. They still go and worship the calf. So you are talking of physical signs and miracles.

Then Musa 'alayhi as-salam brings them to the promised land, before they wander the desert for 40 years. He tells them in this land there are an oppressive people that you must go and fight. They look inside, they see that these people are very big. "Inna fiha qawman jabbarin"(5:22). So they said to Musa, we are not going to fight. Now they say to him, Oh Musa, go you and your Lord and fight them. We are sitting here. Come when you are done, we will go. The Qur'an, Suratul Ma'ida, chapter five, verse 24: "Fadhhab anta wa rabbuk fa qatila inna hahuna qa'idoon" (5:24). Go you and your lord fight, we are sitting here. And you can relate to that. That it is easy for everyone to say, oh Allah send us the Mahdi, send us the Mahdi. But when he comes, there will be people who will say, let us walk slowly behind. There are all these strong young men who can fight. Let them do the work and then we will catch up. This was the idea.

And because of that, they were punished. They wandered the desert for 40 years, they were not allowed to go into the promised land. Then we have other signs that people demand from our Prophet, from Rasul Allah, Salla Allahu wa as-salamu alayh wa alihi wa sallam [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad]. If you look at Surat Bani Isra'el, which is chapter 17 from verse 90 to 95 (17:90-95), it is very, very interesting because you see that the Quraysh, they challenge the Prophet to say if you want us to believe in you, we want certain signs from you. Now they are thinking with their little minds as desert people to whom water is precious and so on.

So if you read these verses in the interest of time, I will not actually go through the verses in detail. But they challenge the Prophet and say things to him like, if you are a real prophet, then cause a river to flow right here in front of us. Or if you are a real prophet, then make an orchard to appear of date palms and grapes and there should be a river running between it.

And then they let their imagination fly and then they say, oh, wait, wait, this is a better one. If you are a real prophet, then we want to see you ascending towards the heavens. And if you ascend, we will not believe in you. When you come down, you must bring a book with you in your hands that we can read, "naqra'ahuhu". Never mind the fact that they could not read, but bring a book down with you that we can read. Or they said to him, make for us a house that is made of pure gold, then we will believe in you. Or cause some fragments of the heavens to break and we should see the sky falling down in little pieces from the sky, then we will believe in you. So they bring all these arguments and challenges just to be argumentative for the sake of it, but they were not going to believe in it.

Because when you then look at it further, where Allah talks about this response to this. He says, We showed people signs like these and greater than these in the past, but they denied them. And in the same Surah Bani Isra'el chapter 17, in verse 59, Allah says, "Wa ma mana'ana an nursilla bil ayati illa an kadhaba bihal awaloon"(17:59). And nothing stops Us from bringing all the signs that they want, except for obviously the ridiculous ones, like bring Allah down and you should look at Him and the angels and we should look at them and so on, because Allah is not in a fixed location to be brought down and looked at. But He says, We could have brought all the signs that they want. Nothing prevents Us except that when We did this in the past generations, they denied them.

"Wa aatayna ath-Thamud an-naqata mubsiratan fa dhalamu biha" (17:59). We brought to the people of Thamud, a camel. It was brought from a carving on a cave and it was brought to life. A real camel came out of the wall to them. And yet they slaughtered and hamstrung the camel and killed it. "Wa ma nursillu bil ayati illa takhweefa"(17:59). We do not send miracles and signs except as a deterrent to people. So that then tells us that miracles have a certain purpose in Allah's eyes. The idea of a miracle is not to provide proof, if I can put it that way, but to provide added proof. Meaning that the miracle only shows you that this Prophet or this Messenger or this Imam has a special position with Allah such that when he asks Allah for something, his prayer is not refused. But it does not in itself give you a conviction that will not leave you or eliminate hypocrisy from the heart.

It is also used as a deterrent, as the Qur'an says, so that those who are evil are held back, because they realise that if this person prays for something, it will affect us. Such as Fir'awn for example, when the Prophet Musa 'alayhi as-salam prays for pestilence, for locusts and for the first born in all the Egyptian family to die, all these things happen. So it serves as a deterrent to them. But in itself, it is not meant to bring human beings to prove. Why? Because Allah does not want human beings to be convinced of the truth only by miracles and signs. There is no greatness in that.

Greatness lies in attaining conviction, through purifying oneself, through realisation, through the intellect, through understanding, rather than just miracles, where one may then argue, well, I was hypnotised or well, there was a scientific explanation to this or well, I do not know if it really happened, or well, it happened a thousand years ago, I want to see that for myself.

And that is why we argue that the greatest miracle is the Qur'an. Even though the Messenger of Allah performed many other miracles. A lot of times you will find if you look at the Internet as well, you will see Christians will argue on this basis. They will say, oh Jesus was better than Muhammad, because Jesus could bring the dead back to life, he could heal the lepers, he could give the blind sight, he could do this, he could do that. What could your Prophet do? And then we argue back and say, well, he split the moon and when he holds pebbles in his hands, they would do tasbeeh and a tree moved from its place. Now these were true. The Prophet did do those. But that is not the line of argument.

Because when Jesus himself came and he performed his miracles, the people denied him. Most of them denied them except the hawariyoon or the disciples. He took clay and built a bird out of that and fashioned it and with the permission of Allah, he would breathe life into it and it would fly and become a living creature. They would still deny it and say, this is magic. So he had to perform miracles to involve them in the miracle. He said to them, I will tell you what you have in your homes and what you store, and I will tell you what you will eat tomorrow so that they can see that they also are a part of the miracle and it is not magic or tricks being played on their eyes.

So this in itself is not proof. And what I wish to do tonight inshaAllah just to sort of wrap up on this third reason as to why people would reject the Imam, that total reliance on just physical signs and miracles, is to say that if miracles are shown to a heart that is impure, instead of adding conviction to it, it will actually add opposition to the truth.

There is a verse of the Qur'an where Allah says, "Fi quloobihim maradhun fa zadahum Allahu maradha"(2:10) . In their hearts is a disease and Allah increases the disease in their hearts. Now, how does Allah increase disease in the heart of someone? It goes against the idea of a God who is just and kind and loving, who wishes well for His creation and wishes to guide them, isn't it? Allah wishes to guide human beings. Why would he put disease? Somebody has disease in his heart, Allah should help it come out. He should not be adding disease to it. He says, in their heart is a disease. Allah increases disease in their heart.

Now, if you look at this verse and study it and look at what the mufassireen have to say about it, they say that the disease that is increased in their heart by Allah is by being shown more signs. Their hearts are impure, so Allah shows them sign after sign after sign, miracle after miracle after miracle, proof after proof after proof. That is how disease increases in their hearts. The more they are shown, the more opposed they become to the truth. And this is the meaning of "fa zadahum Allahu maradha" (2:10).

And that is why, again, in many verses of the Qur'an, Allah also says this, that they say, why does not Allah send an angel down from the heavens. In that Surah Bani-Israel after you go to verse 90 to 95, if you go a little further, there is a verse where Allah says that nothing has stopped people from accepting the truth in the past except that they have said, "Aba'ath Allahu bashara Rasula" (17:94). Does Allah send an ordinary human being as a messenger? This idea that somebody who looks like us in flesh and blood could be a messenger from God sounded very, very unbelievable to people. And this is the root cause, Allah says, that they would deny the truth.

Now, Allah says in one verse of the Qur'an that they say, Why does not Allah send angels down? He says if angels were living on the earth, We would have sent angels as messengers. But human beings live on the earth. So Allah sends human beings. And that was why yesterday as well, when we talked about the signs of the Imams, we repeatedly said that we want to see the ordinariness and the humanness in the events that take place in the coming of the Mahdi and the establishment of a world Islamic utopia, if you like, where there is peace and tranquility, where human beings progress to new heights and to new growth of understanding. This happens through sacrifices, through the normal processes of cause and effect that we know today. Through our participation, through our sacrifices, through our sincerity, through our willingness to surrender and to accept the truth, not through miracles and through signs, because there is no greatness in that.

So to summarise then, we have mentioned three signs. We have said that one of the reasons people would reject the Imam is that their initial reaction would be to seek relief without realising there is sacrifices to be made. And once they realise there is sacrifice they would turn against the Imam. The second would be not wanting to participate because of being fed up with the conditions of the time by the time the Imam returns. And the third is this complete dependency on miracles only and expecting that the Imam is proven to be the Imam only by showing us miracles. There are signs that the Imam does show, but we shall talk of the other signs inshaAllah tomorrow and complete this subject.

Wa al-hamdu li-Llahi Rabb al-'Alameen, wa salla Allahu 'ala sayyiddina Muhammad wa 'ala aali baytih, at-tayyibin, at-tahirin. Allahumma salli ala Muhammad wa aali Muhammad. We pray to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala to hasten the appearance of our Imam. We pray for Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala to increase us in our understanding of our Imam. We pray to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala to help us prepare for him not just physically but also spiritually, so that inshaAllah when he returns, we are not of those who reject him. We pray to Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala bi haqqi Muhammad wa aali Muhammad and for the sake of our Imam on these auspicious nights, that Allah should give health and shifa' to those who are ill, and He should grant maghfira to those who have passed away. "Rabbana taqqabal minna. Innaka Anta as-Samee'u al 'Aleem" (2:127). Salawat 'ala Muhammad wa 'aali Muhammad [Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad wa Aali Muhammad].