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 [Ali Mola Revolution]The Occultation of al-Qa段m al-Mahdi in

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PostSubject: [Ali Mola Revolution]The Occultation of al-Qa段m al-Mahdi in   Sun Oct 22, 2006 12:27 am

The Occultation of al-Qa段m al-Mahdi in the Qur'an
In Shi段te exegesis many Qur'anic verses are regarded as references to the role of al-Qa段m and his occultation.
The most important is the following verse: O, but I call to witness the planets, the stars which rise and set [al-Takweer, LXXXI, 15-6]
According to Imam al-Baqir, this verse means that an Imam would go into occultation in the year 260/847; then he would reappear suddenly like a bright shooting star in the dark night[41].
Ibn al-Furat, al-Kafi and al-Saduq interpret the following Qur'anic verse: "Say: Have you thought: If (all) your water were to disappear into the earth, who then could bring you gushing water" [al-Mulk LXVII, 30]
They maintain that this verse is a metaphor for the concealment of the Imam, whose presence among people is like the water they need to drink[42].
The Isma'ili writer Mansur al-Yaman (ca. 4th century A. H.) agrees with al-Kulayni that some Qur'anic verses which apparently deal with the Day of Judgement actually concern the appearance of al-Qa段m after his occultation. According to al-Kulayni the verse "And those who sincerely believe in the day of Judgement" [al-Mi`raj, LXX, 26] refers to those who believe in the reappearance of al-Qa段m[43]. Mansur al-Yaman gives a similar esoteric interpretation of another verse:
And of mankind are some who say, we believe in Allah and the Last Day, when they believe not. They think to beguile Allah and those who believe, but they beguile none save themselves; but they perceive not. [al-Baqara, II, 8-9]
Mansur al-Yaman states that the Last Day (al-Yawm al-Akhir) in this verse is the "Commander of the Age" (Sahib al-Zaman), that is al-Qa段m al-Mahdi[44] .
Al-Kulayni interprets many Qur'anic verses with the same kind of approach and links them to the future role of al-Qa段mal-Mahdi. ' In his view, when al-Qa段m reappears he will establish the political state of the "People of the House" (Ahl al-Bayt) that is, the Imams, upon the ruins of the state of inequity. This is al-Kulayni's esoteric commentary on the verse: "And say: The truth has come and falsehood has vanished. Surely falsehood is a vanishing thing." [Banu Isra'il, XVII, 81][45]
Al-Tusi follows in al-Kulani's footsteps in commenting on certain Qur'anic verses. Take, for example, this passage:
And We desired to show favour unto those who were oppressed in the earth, and to make them Imams and to make them the inheritors. And to establish them in the earth, and to show Pharaoh and Haman and their hosts that which they feared from them. [al-Qasas XXVIII, 5-6]
Al-Tusi holds that the above verses predict the establishment of the state of Justice by al-Qa段m al-Mahdi, who would inherit what had been in the possession of the wrong-doers[ 46].
Other Imamite scholars maintain that the fifth Imam, al-Baqir, said that Allah's promise of victory to an Imam from the People of the House is mentioned explicitly in the following verse:
And verily We have have written in the scripture (al-Zabur), after the Reminder My righteous slaves will inherit the earth. [al-Anbiya', XXI, 105][47]
Other verses have also been interpreted by the Imamites to be connected with the role of al-Qa段m, after his rising from occultation, such as the verse:
Allah has promised such of you as believe and do good works that He will surely make them to succeed (the present rulers) in the earth even as He caused those who were before them to succeed (others); and He will surely establish for them their religion which he has approved for them, and will give them in exchange safety after their fear. They serve Me. They ascribe nothing as a partner unto Me. Those who disbelieve henceforth, they are the wrong doers. [al-Nur, XXIV, 55]
Al-Qummi and al-Tusi report that the People of the House mentioned that this verse concerns the Mahdi because he would live during his concealment in a state of fear, would appear after the removal of fear, and would certainly become victorious[48] .
The traditions concerning al-Qa段m al-Mahdi
There are many traditions attributed to the Prophet in the books of tradition concerning the identity of al-Mahdi, his family, his epithet (kunya) and his character. The conclusion of these numerous traditions is that al-Mahdi is a descendant of the sons of Fatima[49], the daughter of the Prophet; and more particularly, that he is of the progeny of her son al-Husayn. His colour is similar to that of the Arab, and his body is like the Israelite, and his name and kunya are similar to,the name and kunya of the Prophet[50].
Moreover some traditions claim that the Prophet said that al-Mahdi's father's name is like the name of the Prophet's grandson, al-Hasan. Below are a number of these traditions.
i) We, the family of `Abd al-Muttalib, are the Masters of the inhabitants of Paradise: I, Hamza, Ja断ar, `Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn and al-Mahdi[51] .
ii) Al-Mahdi is from my progeny. His name is similar to mine and his epithet is similar to mine. In his physique and character he looks exactly like me. He will be in a state of occultation and there will be confusion (Hayra) in which people will wander about. Then he will come forth like a sharp, shooting star to fill the earth with justice and equity as it was filled before with injustice and inequity[52] .
iii) Al-Mahdi is from my family (`itra) from the sons of Fatima. It is worth mentioning that this tradition was reported on the authority of Umm Salama by `Ali b. Nufayl, who died in 125/742.[53]
iv) On the authority of Ibn 'Abbas, the Prophet is reported to have said, "How shall Allah destroy a nation whose beginning is myself, whose end is Jesus and whose very centre is al-Mahdi, who will be from my family?[54]
v) The name of al-Mahdi's father is similar to the name of my son al-Hasan[55] .
The conclusion of Osman concerning these traditions seems to be rather forced. "All these hadiths are weak and contradictory (mutadarib), therefore their attribution to the Prophet Muhammad is to be very much doubted[56].
For the use of the epithet al-Mahdi by numerous Islamic groups, particularly the Zaydites, in their struggle for power during the Umayyad period shows that these traditions were well-known among the Muslims of that period. Moreover, many traditionists from different Islamic sects transmitted these traditions before the downfall of the Umayyads in 132/749, and later they were collected in the books of tradition (hadith).
The earliest of these books was Kitab Sulaym b. Qays, attributed to Sulaym b. Qays al-Hilali, who died between the years 80-90/699-708. He reports many Prophetic traditions concerning al-Mahdi, his occultation and his reappearance[ 57].
It appears from these two points that Osman's judgement is somewhat hasty, particularly if one takes into account the fact that Prophetic traditions regarding al-Mahdi were narrated by twenty-six companions of the Prophet. On their authority thirty-eight traditionists recorded these traditions in their collections of hadith[58].
The evidence suggests that from the earliest times in Islam there was a belief that the Prophet had given his followers a promise about a man from the progeny of al-Husayn, who would rise in arms in the future to purify Islam from innovation. But political rivalry amongst the Muslims encouraged some people to exploit this hope and to distort these Prophetic traditions in order to use them in their struggle for power[59].
These traditions only mention that al-Qa段m al-Mahdi will be from the progeny of the Prophet. But there are also other traditions attributed to the Prophet which state that al-Mahdi will, in fact, be the Twelfth Imam.
It is true that Montgomery Watt objects that,
Until al-`Askari died on 1st Jan. 874, there was nothing to make people expect that the number of the Imams would be limited to twelve or that the Twelfth would go into occultation. It follows the theory of the twelve Imams was worked out after 874.[60]
Nevertheless, there is ample proof that traditions claiming a-lQa'im would be the Twelfth descendant of the Prophet were in circulation before 874. It is thus necessary to throw light upon these traditions, which were,transmitted by Sunnites and Zaydites as well as Imamites, so that one can see to what extent these traditions were used by the Imamite scholars to support the belief that the Twelfth Imam had not died but was in a state of occultation.
The signs of the rise of al-Qa段m
The early Imamite traditionists delineated five signs which would precede the rise of al-Qa段m al-Mahdi: first, the rise of al-Yamani, then the rise of al-Sufyani, thirdly the assassination of the Pure Soul (al-Nafs al-Zakiyya) in Mecca only fifteen days before the rise of alQa'im, fourthly an outcry in the morning from the sky in the name of al-Qa段m, and finally the sinking of an army into the earth (al-Bayda') during its march on Mecca[114]. Despite the fact that al-Nu`mani, al-Saduq and al-Tusi differ as to the chronological occurrence of these signs, they all agree that they will occur in the same year[115].
It seems that the delineation of these signs along with the expectations of the Imamites and al-Jarudiyya that al-Qa段m al Mahdi would rise in the near future[116] caused the `Abbasid authorities to be suspicious, since some of these signs were connected with their regime and indicated that al-Qa段m's uprising was directed mainly against them. The fact that the Imams had the `Abbasids in mind can be seen in the discussion between al-Ria, the eighth Imam, and his adherent al-Hasan b. al-Jahm[117] , who said to him:
"May Allah make you prosper! The people are saying that al Sufyani will rise after the fall of the `Abbasids." Al-Ria said: "They lie. He will rise while they are still in power.[118]
This statement has been confirmed in other traditions attributed to al-Sadiq. For example his companion Ya`qub b. al-Sarraj asked him:
"When will your Shi'a gain their release from suffering?" He replied, "When conflict occurs amongst the `Abbasids, and their power begins to decline. Then their partisans and their subjects will be encouraged to threaten the authorities. Thereafter al-Sufyani will rise from the West, while the Yamani will advance from the East, until they both reach Kufa, where they will destroy the `Abbasids. At the same time the Hasani will start his rebellion. Then the Master of this matter, al-Qa段m, shall advance from Medina towards Mecca to rebel.[119]"
According to al-Nu`mani, al-Sadiq added that because of these events, the fall of the `Abbasid regime was inevitable. Its fall would be similar to a piece of crockery dropped from the hand of its possessor, which then splits into pieces."[120]
In the light of these statements attributed to the Imams it is clear that from the time of al-Sadiq onwards, the Imamites awaited the political uprising of one of their Imams, called al-Qa段m while the `Abbasids were still in power[121].
Indeed the spread of these traditions caused the `Abbasids to fear the Imams, who might have been behind some `Alid revolts. Perhaps this is why the `Abbasid caliphs became suspicious of the Imams. Even the caliph al-Mansur himself related a tradition on the authority of al-Baqir stating that al-Qa段m would be from the progeny of 'Ali[122].
He restricted the movements of al-Sadiq and his followers and made it a policy to discriminate against them. Moreover he invested his sucessor Muhammad with the epithet "alMahdi" (158-169/775- 785) in order to turn the attention of his subjects from the `Alid family toward the family of `Abbas[123].
Despite the fact that the movements of the seventh Imam, Musa al-Kazim, were also restricted by the authorities, so that he died in prison[124], the Shi段te propaganda for the rise of an Imam in the name of al-Qa段m and al-Mahdi spread on a wide scale, particularly after the rebellion of Ibn Tabataba in 199/814.
Probably because of this situation the caliph al-Ma知un devised a new policy towards the eighth Imam al-Ria. He made overtures to him asking him to be his heir apparent. By this means he hoped to split the `Alids some of whom were in rebellion and to keep al-Ria within the `Abbasid palace under close watch[125].
Al-Ma知un followed this same policy with the ninth Imam, al-Jawad, marrying him to his daughter Umm al-Fadl, and keeping him under house-arrest[ 126]. Thereafter housearrest became the cornerstone of the policy of the caliphs towards the Imams. It obliged the Imams to stress the idea of the occultation as the means the Imam would employ to avoid the `Abbasid restriction, which increased from the time of al-Mutawakkil onwards.
Because his agents discovered connections between the underground activities of the Imamite agents in Baghdad, Mada'in and Kufa and the Imam al-Hadi, al-Mutawakkil followed the policy of al-Ma知un. He wrote to al-Hadi a letter full of kindness and courtesy asking him to come to Samarra where they could meet. Afterwards al-Hadi was summoned to the capital in 233/848,[127] where he spent the rest of his life under surveillance. As a result he was prevented from meeting most of his adherents. He was only able to meet a few of his associate agents (wukala) in secret[128].
In fact al-Mutawakkil' s policy managed to prevent the `Alids from rising in arms against his regime. However it failed to destroy the system of the Wikala or to end the underground activities of the Zaydites and the Imamites. These spread throughout the empire to the extent that they were capable of causing a revolt.
Between the years 245-260/859- 874 the Imamite and Zaydite traditionists were relating traditions stating that al-Qa段m would be the Twelfth Imam and urging people to join his side when he rose. The Zaydite al-`Asfari (d. 250/864)[129] and the Imamite Ahmad b. Khalid al-Barqi (d.274-80/887- 93) both related such traditions. For example, in 250/864 al-Barqi passed on a narration attributed to `Ali b. Abi Talib and the Prophet al-Khidr, which states explicitly that al-Qa段m al-Mahdi would be the Twelfth Imam[130].
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