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13. The Sunni Chase Of Shadows: Is The Mahdi Really From Imam Hasan?

There is a dispute between the Shi’ah Imamiyyah and some of the Ahl al-Sunnah about the identity of the Mahdi’s father. There are some Sunnis who agree with Shi’is that the true Mahdi is none other than Imam Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Askari, a descendant of Imam al-Husayn b. ‘Ali b. Abi Talib, ‘alaihim al-salam.1 By contrast, there are others from the majority of the Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah who claim that the Awaited Imam is none other than one Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah al-Hasani. So, to most Sunnis, the progenitor of the Mahdi was Imam al-Hasan b. ‘Ali b. Abi Talib, ‘alaihim al-salam, and the name of his immediate father is ‘Abd Allah. Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 H) is very emphatic on this point:

فالمهدي الذي أخبر به النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم اسمه محمد بن عبد الله لا محمد بن الحسن وقد روى عن علي رضي الله عنه أنه قال هو من ولد الحسن بن على لا من ولد الحسين بن علي

So, the Mahdi who was prophesied by the Prophet, peace be upon him, his name is Muhammad b. ‘Abd Allah, NOT Muhammad b. al-Hasan. Moreover, it has been narrated that ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said that he (the Mahdi) would be from the descendants of al-Hasan b. ‘Ali, NOT from the descendants of al-Husayn b. ‘Ali.2

Elsewhere, he quotes that athar of ‘Ali:

ورواه أبو داود من طريق أبي سعيد وفيه يملك الأرض سبع سنين ورواه عن علي رضي الله عنه أنه نظر إلى الحسن وقال إن ابني هذا سيد كما سماه رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم وسيخرج من صلبه رجل يسمى باسم نبيكم يشبهه في الخلق ولا يشبهه في الخلق يملأ الأرض قسطا

And Abu Dawud narrated it through the route of Abu Sa’id, and in it is: “he will rule the earth by kingdom for seven years.” He (Abu Dawud) also narrated it from ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, that he looked at al-Hasan and said, “This son of mine is a master, as he was named by the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him. A man, who will be named with the name of your Prophet, will rise from his offspring. He will resemble him (i.e. the Prophet) in character, but will not resemble him in creation. He will fill the earth with equity.”3

This riwayah is indeed in the Sunan of Abu Dawud (d. 275 H):

قال أبو داود وحدثت عن هارون بن المغيرة قال ثنا عمرو بن أبي قيس عن شعيب بن خالد عن أبي إسحاق قال قال علي رضي الله عنه ونظر إلى ابنه الحسن فقال إن ابني هذا سيد كما سماه النبي صلى الله عليه و سلم وسيخرج من صلبه رجل يسمى باسم نبيكم صلى الله عليه و سلم يشبهه في الخلق ولايشبهه في الخلق ثم ذكر قصة يملأ الأرض عدلا "

Abu Dawud – Harun b. al-Mughirah – ‘Umar b. Abi Qays – Shu’ayb b. Khalid – Abu Ishaq:

‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, looked at his son al-Hasan and said, “This son of mine is a master, as he was named by the Prophet, peace be upon him. A man, who will be named with the name of your Prophet, peace be upon him, will rise from his offspring. He will resemble him (i.e. the Prophet) in character, but will not resemble him in creation.” Then he mentioned a story (and added): “He will fill the earth with justice.”4

However, it is unreliable evidence, as proclaimed by ‘Allamah al-Albani (d. 1420 H):

ضعيف

Dha’if.5

Meanwhile, the only alternative sanad for the athar is this one, documented by Imam al-Maruzi (d. 229 H):

حدثنا غير واحد عن ابن عياش عمن حدثه عن محمد بن جعفر عن علي بن أبي طالب رضي الله عنه قال سمى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم الحسن سيدا وسيخرج من صلبه رجلا اسمه اسم نبيكم يملأ الأرض عدلا كما ملئت جورا.

More than one personIbn ‘Ayyashsomebody who narrated to him – Muhammad b. Ja’far – ‘Ali b. Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him:

“The Prophet, peace be upon him, named al-Hasan a master, and from his offspring will rise a man whose name will be the name of your Prophet. He will fill the earth with justice just as it had been filled with oppression.”6

Dr. al-Bastawi has these comments about it:

شيوخ نعيم: غير معروفين.

ابن عياش: يعرف بهذه اللقب غير واحد. ولما كان شيخه والراوي عنه غير معروفين فلا يمكن التحديد بمن هو المراد هنا.

عمن حدثه: غير معروف.

شيوخ نعيم: غير معروفين.

ابن عياش: يعرف بهذه اللقب غير واحد. ولما كان شيخه والراوي عنه غير معروفين فلا يمكن التحديد بمن هو المراد هنا.

عمن حدثه: غير معروف.

Shuyukh of Na’im: Not known.

Ibn ‘Ayyash: Many are known with this nickname. Since his shaykh and the narrator from him are unknown, then it is impossible to determine exactly who is meant here.

Somebody who narrated to him: Not known.7

Apparently, this chain is dha’if jiddan (very weak).

Therefore, there really is NO proof, upon which to trace the Mahdi, ‘alaihi al-salam, to Imam al-Hasan, ‘alaihi al-salam.

  • 1. See for instance Shaykh Nazim: Imam Mahdi’s Helpers believe he is the son of Imam Hasan al-Askari – Jan 16th, 2011, https://ahmedamiruddin.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/shaykh-nazim-al-mahdi-an... and Re:Naqshbandi luminaries believed Hadrat Mahdi was the son of Imam Hasan al-Askari?, https://ahmedamiruddin.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/re-naqshbandi-luminaries...
  • 2. Abu al-‘Abbas Ahmad b. ‘Abd al-Halim b. Taymiyyah al-Harrani, Minhaj al-Sunnah al-Nabawiyyah (Muasassat Qurṭubah; 1st edition, 1406 H) [annotator: Dr. Muhammad Rashad Salim], vol. 4, p. 95
  • 3. Ibid, vol. 8, p. 255
  • 4. 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. 511, # 4290
  • 5. Ibid
  • 6. Abu ‘Abd Allah Na’im b. Hammad al-Maruzi, Kitab al-Fitan (Dar al-Fikr; 1414 H) [annotator: Prof. Dr. Suhayl Zakar], part 5, p. 231
  • 7. Dr. ‘Abd al-‘Alim ‘Abd al-‘Azim al-Bastawi, al-Mawsu’at fi Ahadith al-Mahdi al-Dha’ifah wa al-Mawdhu’at (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm; 1st edition, 1420 H), p. 348