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10. Finding The True Mahdi: He Is The Twelfth Of A Sinless Dynasty (Part 1)

The prescribed system of governance in Islam is the khilafah. It is led by a khalifah – who is also alternatively called an Imam or an amir. He rules for life, and represents Allah and His Messenger, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa alihi, on the earth. He is equally an heir of Prophet Ibrahim al-Khalil from his pure offspring. The khilafah is irrevocable, and shall continue uninterruptable till the Hour.

Allah has stated concerning the khilafah:

وإذ ابتلى إبراهيم ربه بكلمات فأتمهن قال إني جاعلك للناس إماما قال ومن ذريتي قال لا ينال عهدي الظالمين

And when Ibrahim was tried by his Lord with some statements, and he fulfilled them, He said, “I will appoint you an Imam of mankind.” He (Ibrahim) asked, “And of my offspring?” He (Allah) replied, “My Covenant shall not reach the wrongdoers.”

Explaining this ayah, al-Hafiz Ibn Kathir (d. 774 H) states:

قال الله تعالى} :وإذ ابتلى إبراهيم ربه بكلمات فأتمهن، قال إني جاعلك للناس إماما، قال ومن ذرتي؟ قال لا ينال عهدي الظالمين {لما وفى ما أمره به ربه من التكاليف العظيمة، جعله للناس إماما يقتدون به ويأتمون بهديه .وسأل الله أن تكون هذه الإمامة متصلة بسببه، وباقية في نسبه، وخالدة في عقبه فأجيب إلى ما سأل وسلمت إليه الإمامة بزمام، واستثنى من نيلها الظالمون، واختص بها من ذريته العلماء العاملون.

Allah the Most High says: {And when Ibrahim was tried by his Lord with some statements, and he fulfilled them, He said, “I will appoint you an Imam of mankind.” He (Ibrahim) asked, “And of my offspring?” He (Allah) replied, “My Covenant shall not reach the wrong-doers.”} When he fulfilled the huge obligations which his Lord commanded him with, he appointed him the Imam of mankind, whom they must follow, and whose guidance they must copy. He requested Allah that this Imamah be connected with his lineage, and be uninterrupted within his offspring, and be perpetual forever among his offspring. So, what he asked WAS GRANTED, and he was granted full authority of Imamah, and the wrong-doers were excluded from its reach, and it was made exclusive to the righteous scholars among his offspring.1

Our Lord made His dear prophet, Ibrahim, ‘alaihi al-salam, a khalifah over all mankind of his time. Ibrahim then made a du’a to him to make it uninterrupted and eternally perpetual within his offspring after him. The supplication was answered, but with a condition: the khilafah would never reach any wrong-doer among his descendants. Prof. Ibn Yasin also records in this regard:

أخرج الطبري بسنده الصحيح عن مجاهد (قال لاينال عهدي الظالمين) قال: لا يكون إماما ظالما.

Al-Tabari records with his sahih chain from Mujahid that he said: “(My Covenant shall not reach the wrongdoers) There will never be an Imam who does wrong.”2

Of course, every sinner is a wrong-doer:

ومن يتعد حدود الله فقد ظلم نفسه

And whosoever transgresses the set limits of Allah, then indeed he has wronged himself.3

And:

ومن يتعد حدود الله فأولئك هم الظالمون

And whosoever transgresses the set limits of Allah, then such are the wrongdoers.4

Therefore, the khilafah – which is a Covenant of Allah (and therefore His exclusive affair) – will never reach any sinner. Whosoever claims the Imamah but is a sinner, he is only an impostor.

Interestingly, even though he was the khalifah of the earth, Ibrahim had no political or military power. This is a crucial point about Imamah. Whether the people recognize their khalifah and give him their allegiance or not, he remains the only legitimate Imam on the face of the earth. His authority does not come from the people, nor is he appointed by them. Rather, he holds the “Covenant of Allah” which He bestows upon some of His pure servants from the offspring of Ibrahim.

Some other khalifahs after Ibrahim also lacked political and military power, and were nonetheless the true Imams of mankind:

ووهبنا له إسحاق ويعقوب نافلة وكلا جعلنا صالحين وجعلناهم أئمة يهدون بأمرنا

And We bestowed upon him (i.e. Ibrahim) Ishaq and Ya’qub. Each one We made righteous. And We appointed them IMAMS, guiding by Our Command.5

Neither Ishaq nor Ya’qub was ever allowed to rule, even though they were both khalifahs.

In line with the du’a of Ibrahim, which was answered by Allah, the khilafah remains eternally perpetual and uninterruptible within his sinless offspring. Naturally, it exists in our Ummah too, till the Day of al-Qiyamah. However, amongst us, it has been limited to the descendants of Ibrahim from the tribe of Quraysh only, as Imam al-Bukhari (d. 256 H) documents:

حدثنا أبو الوليد حدثنا عاصم بن محمد قال سمعت أبي عن ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما: عن النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم قال لا يزال هذا الأمر في قريش ما بقي منهم اثنان

Abu al-Walid – ‘Asim b. Muhammad – my father – Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with them both:

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “THIS AUTHORITY shall never cease to be in Quraysh, as long as (at least) two of them are alive.”6

Apparently, the Quraysh – who are in their millions today – will continue to exist in multitudes till the Hour. Therefore, the khilafah will always be in them till the Day of al-Qiyamah. Meanwhile, the nature of “this authority” – the Imamah – is mentioned in this sahih hadith of Imam Ahmad (d. 241 H):

حدثنا عبد الله حدثني أبي حدثنا زيد بن الحباب حدثنا معاوية بن صالح قال حدثني أبو مريم انه سمع أبا هريرة يقول قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم الملك في قريش

‘Abd Allah (b. Ahmad) – my father (Ahmad b. Hanbal) – Zayd b. al-Hubbab – Mu’awiyah b. Salih – Abu Maryam – Abu Hurayrah:

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: “THE KINGDOM is in Quraysh.”7

Assessing the sanad, al-Albani (d. 1420 H) says:

وهذا إسناد صحيح

This chain is sahih.8

Then, he adds:

قلت: زيد ثقة صدوق كما في " الميزان " وقد رفعه، وهي زيادة يجب قبولها كما تقرر في المصطلح.

I say: Zayd is thiqah (trustworthy), saduq (very truthful) as stated in al-Mizan, and he has narrated it in a marfu’ manner. It is a ziyadah which must be accepted as it has been repeatedly mentioned in al-Mustalah.9

It is royalty. It is monarchy. It is dynasty. Each khalifah is a king, who is appointed by Allah and awarded His Covenant, from the sinless offspring of Prophet Ibrahim.

We also read this hadith of Imam Ahmad:

حدثنا عبد الله حدثني أبي ثنا يونس بن محمد ثنا حماد يعنى بن زيد ثنا مجالد عن الشعبي عن جابر بن سمرة قال خطبنا رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم بعرفات فقال لن يزال هذا الأمر عزيزا منيعا ظاهرا على من ناوأه حتى يملك اثنا عشر كلهم قال فلم أفهم ما بعد قال فقلت لأبي ما بعد كلهم قال كلهم من قريش

‘Abd Allah (b. Ahmad) – my father (Ahmad b. Hanbal) - Yunus b. Muhammad – Hammad b. Zayd – Mujalid – al-Sha’bi – Jabir b. Samurah:

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, delivered a sermon to us at ‘Arafat and said, “This affair will never cease to be strong, invincible and victorious over whoever opposes it as long as twelve (people) RULE BY KINGDOM. All of them….”

(Jabir said): I did not understand what was said after that. So, I said to my father, “What did he say after ‘all of them…’?”. He replied, “All of them will be from Quraysh.”10

Al-Arnauṭ says:

حديث صحيح

A sahih hadith11

Of course, these twelve men are the only twelve khalifahs of this Ummah till the end of the world. Imam Muslim (d. 261 H) records in this regard:

حدثنا قتيبة بن سعيد وأبو بكر بن أبي شيبة قالا حدثنا حاتم (وهو ابن إسماعيل) عن المهاجر بن مسمار عن عامر بن سعد بن أبي وقاص قال كتبت إلى جابر بن مرة مع غلامي نافع أن أخبرني بشيء سمعته من رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم قال فكتب لي سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم يوم جمعة عشية رجم الأسلمي يقول (لا يزال الدين قائما حتى تقوم الساعة أو يكون عليكم اثنا عشر خليفة كلهم من قريش)

Qutaybah b. Sa’id and Abu Bakr b. Abi Shaybah – Hatim b. Isma’il – al-Muhajir b. Musmar – ‘Amir b. Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas:

I sent a letter to Jabir b. Samurah through my servant, Nafi’, to inform me of something he heard from the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him. So, he wrote in reply back to me: “I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, saying on a Friday, on the eve of the stoning of al-Aslami, saying: ‘The religion will never cease to stand until the establishment of the Hour or as long as there are twelve khalifahs over you, all of them from Quraysh.’”12

The hadith is explicit: Islam will remain standing throughout the khilafah of the twelve kings, and this will be until the Day of al-Qiyamah. So, the twelve khalifahs will rule, uninterrupted, till the Hour.

We further read this hadith of Ahmad:

حدثنا عبد الله حدثني أبي ثنا مؤمل بن إسماعيل ثنا حماد بن سلمة حدثنا داود بن هند عن الشعبي عن جابر بن سمرة قال سمعت النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم يقول يكون لهذه الأمة اثنا عشر خليفة

‘Abd Allah (b. Ahmad) – my father (Ahmad b. Hanbal) – Mumal b. Isma’il – Hammad b. Salamah – Dawud b. Hind – al-Shu’bi – Jabir b. Samurah:

I heard the Prophet, peace be upon him, saying: “There will be for this Ummah TWELVE KHALIFAHS.”13

Shaykh al-Arnauṭ says:

حديث صحيح

A sahih hadith.14

Therefore, any other khalifah apart from these twelve is NOT “for” this Ummah. He is only an impostor.

Meanwhile, one of these twelve royal khalifahs is our beloved Mahdi. Imam Abu Dawud (d. 275 H) records:

حدثنا سهل بن تمام بن بزيع ثنا عمران القطان عن قتادة عن أبي نضرة عن أبي سعيد الخدري قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم " المهدي مني أجلى الجبهة أقنى الأنف يملأ الأرض قسطا وعدلا كما ملئت جورا وظلما ويملك سبع سنين "

Sahl b. Tammam b. Buzay’ – ‘Imran al-Qaṭṭan – Qatadah – Abu Nadhrah – Abu Sa’id al-Khudri:

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said: “The Mahdi is from me, with a broad forehead, a curved nose. He will fill the earth with equity and justice just as it had been filled with oppression and injustice, and he will RULE BY KINGDOM for seven years.”15

Al-Albani says:

حسن

Hasan.16

Obviously, Imam al-Mahdi is the twelfth and last of these royal khalifahs, since he will rule over the last generation of our Ummah. Imam al-Hakim (d. 403 H) documents this relevant hadith:

أخبرني أبو العباس محمد بن أحمد المحبوبي بمرو ثنا سعيد بن مسعود ثنا النضر بن شميل ثنا سليمان بن عبيد ثنا أبو الصديق الناجي عن أبي سعيد الخدري رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : يخرج في آخر أمتي المهدي

Abu al-‘Abbas Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Mahbubi – Sa’id b. Mas’ud – al-Nadhr b. Shumayl – Sulayman b. ‘Ubayd – Abu al-Siddiq al-Naji – Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him:

The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said, “The Mahdi will come out at the END of my Ummah.17

Al-Hakim comments:

هذا حديث صحيح الإسناد

This hadith has a sahih chain18

Imam al-Dhahabi (d. 748 H) agrees:

صحيح

Sahih19

‘Allamah al-Albani also says about the hadith in his Sahihah:

قلت: وهذا سند صحيح

I say: This chain is sahih20

Dr. al-Bastawi has the same verdict on it:

إسناده صحيح.

Its chain is sahih.21

The grand Salafi scholar, Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymin (d. 1421 H), declares the same thing in his commentary of al-‘Aqidah al-Safariniyyah:

قوله : ( منها ) : أي من أشراطها ،

قوله : (الإمام الخاتم الفصيح ) : أي من أشراط الساعة الإمام ، الإمام يعني الذي يؤم الناس لا في الصلاة ولكن في القيادة ، يكون إماماً لهم أعظم ، كالخليفة هذا الإمام

يقول أنه ( الخاتم ) ، الخاتم لمن ؟ الخاتم للأئمة لأنه لا إمام بعده فهو خاتم الأئمة واسمه يقول : ( محمد ) ، ولقبه ( المهدي ) يعني الذي هداه الله عز وجل ، هذا المهدي يُبعث في آخر الزمان إذا مُلئت الأرض ظلماً وجوراً ونُسِّيَ فيها الحق وصار المظلوم لقمةً للظالم وانتشرت الفوضى فحينئذٍ يبعث الله هذا الرجل رجلاً إماماً مصلحاً للخلق مبيِّناً للحق

His statement (among them): that is, among its signs.

His statement (the Last, Eloquent Imam): that is, from the signs of the Hour is the Imam. “The Imam” (here) refers to the one who leads mankind, not (just) in salat but in government. This Imam will be their supreme Imam, as the khalifah.

He says that he (the Mahdi) is the last, the last of whom? The last of the Imams, because there will be NO Imam after him. As such, he is the LAST of the Imams. His name is Muhammad, and his title is “the Mahdi”, meaning the one who has been guided by Allah the Almighty. This is the Mahdi who will be SENT during the End of Time, when the earth will have been filled with injustice and oppression, and the truth will have been forgotten, and the oppressed will have become a morsel to the oppressor, and chaos will have become widespread. At that period, Allah the Almighty will SEND this man as as a male Imam to reform THE CREATION and to restore the truth.22

He will be sent by Allah to “the creation”, and will be the last of the lines of royal Imams on this earth. These Imams are twelve for this Ummah. So, the Mahdi is the twelfth Imam.

  • 1. Abu al-Fida Isma’il b. Kathir, Qisas al-Anbiya (Dar al-Kutub al-Hadithah; 1st edition, 1388 H) [annotator: Musṭafa ‘Abd al-Wahid], vol. 1, p. 232; Abu al-Fida Isma’il b. Kathir al-Dimashqi, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah (Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi; 1st edition, 1408 H) [annotator: ‘Ali Shiri], vol. 1, p. 191
  • 2. Prof. Dr. Hikmat b. Bashir b. Yasin, Mawsu’at al-Sahih al-Masbur min al-Tafsir bi al-Mathur (Madinah: Dar al-Mathar li al-Nashr wa al-Tawzi’ wa al-Taba’at; 1st edition, 1420 H), vol. 1, p. 229
  • 3. Qur’an 65:1
  • 4. Qur’an 2:229
  • 5. Qur’an 21:72-73
  • 6. Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad b. Isma’il b. Ibrahim b. Mughirah al-Bukhari al-Ju’fi, al-Jami’ al-Sahih al-Mukhtasar (Beirut: Dar Ibn Kathir; 3rd edition, 1407 H) [annotator: Dr. Musṭafa Dib al-Bagha], vol. 3, p. 1290, # 3310 and vol. 6, p. 2612, # 6721
  • 7. Abu ‘Abd Allah Ahmad b. Hanbal al-Shaybani, Musnad (Cairo: Muasassat Qurṭubah) [annotator: Shu’ayb al-Arnauṭ], vol. 2, p. 364, # 8746
  • 8. Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman Muhammad Nasir al-Din b. al-Hajj Nuh b. Tajati b. Adam al-Ashqudri al-Albani, Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah wa Shayhun min Fiqhihah wa Fawaidihah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma’arif li al-Nashr wa al-Tawzi’; 1st edition, 1415 H), vol. 3, p. 72, # 1084
  • 9. Ibid
  • 10. Abu ‘Abd Allah Ahmad b. Hanbal al-Shaybani, Musnad (Cairo: Muasassat Qurṭubah) [annotator: Shu’ayb al-Arnauṭ], vol. 5, p. 96, # 20944
  • 11. Ibid
  • 12. Abu al-Husayn Muslim b. al-Hajjaj al-Qushayri al-Naysaburi, Sahih Muslim (Beirut: Dar Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi) [annotator: Muhammad Fuad ‘Abd al-Baqi], vol. 3, p. 1453, # 1822 (10)
  • 13. Abu ‘Abd Allah Ahmad b. Hanbal al-Shaybani, Musnad (Cairo: Muasassat Qurṭubah) [annotator: Shu’ayb al-Arnauṭ], vol. 5, p. 106, # 21051
  • 14. Ibid
  • 15. Abu Dawud Sulayman b. al-Ash’ath al-Sijistani al-Azdi, Sunan (Dar al-Fikr) [annotator: Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani], vol. 2, p. 509, # 4285
  • 16. Ibid
  • 17. Abu ‘Abd Allah Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah al-Hakim al-Naysaburi, al-Mustadrak ‘ala al-Sahihayn (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-’Ilmiyyah; 1st edition, 1411 H) [annotator: Mustafa ‘Abd al-Qadir ‘Aṭa], vol. 4, p. 601, # 8673
  • 18. Ibid
  • 19. Ibid
  • 20. Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman Muhammad Nasir al-Din b. al-Hajj Nuh b. Tajati b. Adam al-Ashqudri al-Albani, Silsilah al-Ahadith al-Sahihah wa Shayhun min Fiqhihah wa Fawaidihah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma’arif li al-Nashr wa al-Tawzi’; 1st edition, 1415 H), vol. 2, p. 328, # 711
  • 21. Dr. ‘Abd al-‘Alim ‘Abd al-‘Azim al-Bastawi, al-Mahdi al-Muntazar fi Dhaw-i al-Ahadith wa al-Athar al-Sahihah wa Aqwal al-‘Ulama wa Ara al-Firaq al-Mukhtalifah (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm; 1st edition, 1420 H), p. 165
  • 22. Muhammad b. Salih al-‘Uthaymin, Sharh al-‘Aqidah al-Safariniyyah (Riyadh: Dar al-Waṭan li al-Nashr; 1st edition, 1426 H), pp. 450-451