51. The Fatimid. The opinions of the people about him.
The truth about the matter.
It has been well known (and generally accepted) by all Muslims in every epoch, that at the end of time a man from the family (of the Prophet) will without fail make his appearance, one who will strengthen the religion and make justice triumph. The Muslims will follow him, and he will gain domination over the Muslim realm. He will be called the Mahdi. Following him, the Antichrist will appear, together with all the subsequent signs of the Hour (the Day of Judgment), as established in (the sound tradition of) the Sahih. After (the Mahdi), Isa (Jesus) will descend and kill the Antichrist. Or, Jesus will descend together with the Mahdi, and help him kill (the Antichrist), and have him as the leader in his prayers.
Evidence for this matter has been found in the traditions that religious leaders have published. They have been (critically) discussed by those who disapprove of (the matter), and have often been refuted by means of certain (other) traditions.788
The more recent Sufis have another theory and a sort of argument concerning the Fatimid. They like to base themselves upon the removal (of the veil, kashf), which is the basis of their various (mystical) paths.
We are now going to mention here the various traditions concerning (this matter). (We are also going to mention) the attacks upon these traditions by those who disapprove (of the matter), and the evidence upon which they base their disapproval. This, then, will be followed by a report on the statements and opinions of the Sufis. Thus, the true situation will become clear, if God wills.
We say: A number of religious leaders have published traditions concerning the Mahdi, among them at-Tirmidhi,789 Abu Dawud,790 al-Bazzar,791 Ibn Majah, 792 al-Hakim,793 atTabarani,794 and Abu Ya'la al-Mawsill.795 They mention a number of the men around Muhammad as transmitters of these traditions: 'Ali, Ibn 'Abbas, Ibn 'Umar, Talhah, Ibn Mas'ud,796 Abu Hurayrah, Anas, Abu Sa'id al-Khudri,797 Umm Habibah,798 Umm Salimah,799 Thawban,800 Qurrah b. lyas,801'Ali al-Hilali,802 and 'Abdallah b. al-Harith b. Jaz 803 among others. (They also mention) their chains of transmitters, which have often been found objectionable by those who disapprove (of the matter). We shall mention this now, because hadith scholars acknowledge negative criticism to have precedence over positive criticism. If we find that some person in the chain of transmitters is accused of negligence, poor memory, weakness, or poor judgment, it affects and weakens the soundness of the tradition. It should not be said that the same faults often affect the persons (mentioned as authorities in) the two Sahihs. The general consensus of hadith transmitters confirms the soundness of the contents of (the two Sahihs) as presented by al-Bukhari and Muslim. The uninterrupted general consensus in Islam also confirms the acceptability of (the two Sahihs) and the necessity of acting in accordance with their contents. General consensus is the best protection and defense. Works other than the two Sahihs are not on the same level with them in this respect. How we have to proceed in discussing the transmitters mentioned in (the two Sahihs) is indicated in the statements of authoritative hadith scholars on that (subject).
As-Suhayli 804 reports with reference to Abu Bakr b. Abi Khaythamah 805 that the latter did a thorough job of collecting the traditions of the Mahdi. (As-Suhayli) said: "The tradition with the strangest chain of transmitters is the one mentioned by Abu Bakr al-Iskaf 806 in the Fawa'id alakhbar. It goes back to Malik b. Anas, who had it on the authority of Muhammad b. al-Munkadir, 807 who had it on the authority of Jabir, 808 who said that the Messenger of God said: 'He who does not believe in the Mahdi is an unbeliever, and he who does not believe in the Antichrist is a liar.' He said something similar with regard to the rising of the sun in the west, I think." One could not find a more extremist statement. The soundness of his chain of transmitters between (Abu Bakr) and Malik b. Anas (also) is problematic. Abu Bakr al-Iskaf is considered by (hadith scholars) as suspect and as a forger of traditions.
With their chain of transmitters going back to Ibn Mas'ud, at-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawild have published the following tradition through 'Asim b. Abi n-Najid, 809 one of the seven authoritative Qur'an readers, on the authority of Zirr b. Hubaysh, 810 on the authority of 'Abdallah b. Masud, on the authority of the Prophet: "If no more than one day remained of the world-said Za'idah 811 -God would cause that day to last until there be sent a man from me -or: from my familywhose name will tally with my name, and the name of whose father will tally with the name of my father."
This is the recension of Abu Dawud. Abu Dawud did not add any remarks critical of it, and he said in his well-known Epistle 812 that everything to which he did not append critical remarks in his book was all right.
The recension of at-Tirmidhi has: "The world will not be destroyed until the Arabs shall be ruled by a man from my family, whose name will tally with my name."
Another recension has: "... until a man from my family takes charge."
He (at-Tirmidhi) states in connection with both recensions that it is a good and sound tradition. He also transmitted the tradition through 'Asim, with a chain of transmitters that stops with Abu Hurayrah.
Al-Hakim said that the tradition was transmitted by ath-Thawri,813 Shu'bah,814
Za'idah, and other Muslim religious leaders, on the authority of 'Asim. He said: "Everything
transmitted by 'Asim, on the authority of Zirr, on the authority of 'Abdallah,
is sound, according to the rules I have laid down for using information
derived from 'Asim as evidence, for he is an authoritative Muslim
religious leader." However,
815 Ahmad b. Hanbal said
about 'Asim that he was a pious man, a reader of the Qur'an, and a good
and reliable person, but that al-A'mash
816 had a
better memory than he. Shu'bah used to prefer al-A'mash to him for
establishing (the soundness of) traditions. Al-'Ijli
said: "There was some difference of opinion about his (reliability)
with regard to Zirr and Abu Wa'il."
In this way, he alluded to the weakness of
the material he transmitted on their authority. Muhammad b. Sa'd said:
"He was reliable; however, he made many errors in his traditions."
819 Ya'qub b.
"There is some confusion in his traditions." 'Abd-arRahman b. Abi Hatim
821 said: "I said
to my father:
822 'Abu Zur'ah
823 says that 'Asim is
reliable.' My father replied: 'He does not fall into that category. Ibn
824 discussed 'Asim (adversely) and said:
"Everyone named 'Asim has a bad memory."' " Abu Hatim said: "So far as I
am concerned, he falls into the category of truthful transmitters
whose traditions are all right. But he was not a (great)
826 expressed a
about him. Ibn Khirash
said: "His traditions contain
things that are unknown." Abu Ja'far al-'Ugayli
"There was nothing the matter with him except a bad
said: "There was something the
matter with his memory." Yahya al-Qattan
said: "I have
never found a man named 'Asim who did not have a bad
Abu Dawud published a tradition relating to 'All in the chapter (on the Mahdi), as transmitted. by Fitr b. Khalifah,832 on the authority of al-Qasim b. Abi Bazzah,833 on the authority of Abu t-Tufayl, 834 on the authority of 'Ali, on the authority of the Prophet, who said: "If only one day of the whole duration of the world remained, God would send a man of my family who will fill the world with justice, as it had been filled with injustice." 835
Fitr b. Khalifah was considered reliable by Ahmad (b. Hanbal), Yahya b. al-Qattan, Ibn Ma'in,836 an-Nasa'i, and others, but al 'Ijli said: "He is 'good' in his traditions, (but) he has some pro-Shi'ah bias." Ibn Ma'in once said: "He is a reliable person and a Shi'ah." Ahmad b. 'Abdallah b. Yunus 837 said: "We used to go and see Fitr, but he is rejected, and we did not write down (traditions) on his authority." Another time, he said: "I used to go and see him but always left him like a dog." Ad-Daraqutni said: "He is not utilized as evidence." Abu Bakr b. 'Ayyash 838 said: "I gave up transmitting traditions on his authority only because of his bad dogmatic opinions." Al-Juzajani 839 said: "He is wayward and not reliable." End of the quotation.
With a chain of transmitters going back to 'Ali, Abu Dawud also published the following tradition, on the authority of Harun b. al-Mughirah,840 on the authority of 'Amr b. Abi Qays,841 on the authority of Shu'ayb b. Khalid,842 on the authority of Abu Ishaq as-Sabi'i,843 who said that 'All, looking at his son al-Hasan, said: "This son of mine is a lord, as he was called by the Messenger of God. From his spine, there will come forth a man who will be called by the name of your Prophet and who will resemble him physically, but will not resemble him in character." He then mentioned the story, "He will fill the earth with justice...."
Harun said: 844 We were told by 'Amr b. Abi Qays, on the authority of Mutarrif b. Tarif,845 on the authority of Abu 1-Hasan 846 on the authority of Hilal b. 'Amr: 847 I heard 'Ali say: The Prophet said: "A man will come forth from Beyond the River (Transoxania) whose name will be al-Harith b. llarrath. In his avant-garde, there will be a man whose name will be Mansur. He will pave the way -or: prepare the way -for the family of Muhammad, as the Quraysh prepared the way for the Messenger of God. Every believer must help him-or, he said, respond to his call."
Abu Dawud made no critical remarks about this (tradition). In another passage, he said: "Harun is a Shi'ah." AsSulaymani 848 said: "He is disputed." Concerning 'Amr b. Abi Qays, Abu Dawud said: "There is nothing wrong with him, but his traditions contain errors." Adh-Dhahabi said: "He is trustworthy, but there are doubts concerning him." As to Abu Ishaq as-Sabi'i, even though traditions on his authority are published in the two Sahihs, it is well established that he became confused at the end of his life. His transmission on the authority of 'Ali is not continuous. The same applies to Abu Dawud's transmission on the authority of Harun b. al-Mughirah.
Abul-Hasan and Hilal b. 'Amr, (mentioned) in the second chain of transmitters, are little known. Abul-Hasan is known only from the fact that Mutarrif b. Tarif transmits (material) on his authority. End of the quotation.
The following tradition, furthermore, was published by Abu Dawud, as well as by Ibn Majah and al-Hakim in the Mustadrak, through 'Ali b. Nufayl,849 on the authority of Sa'id b. al-Musayyab, on the authority of Umm Salimah, who said: "I heard the Messenger of God say: 'The Mahdi is one of my family, one of the descendants of Fatimah.' " This is Abu Daw6d's recension. He did not make any critical remarks concerning it. Ibn Majah's recension has: "The Mahdi is one of Fatimah's descendants." Al-Hakim's recension has: "I heard the Messenger of God mention the Mahdi. He said: 'Yes, he is a fact, and he will be one of the children of Fatimah.' " Neither (Hakim) nor anyone else discussed the soundness of the tradition (critically). Abu Ja'far al-'Ugayli declared it to be weak. He said: "'Ali b. Nufayl has not been followed in this tradition, and it is known only through him."
Abu Dawud also published the following tradition of Umm Salimah, which was transmitted by Abul-Khalil Salih,850 on the authority of one of his colleagues, on the authority of Umm Salimah, on the authority of the Prophet, who said: "There will be a difference of opinion at the death of a caliph. A man from Medina will leave and flee to Mecca. People from Mecca will come to him and will drive him out.851 He will be unwilling. They will render the oath of allegiance to him between the Corner (rukn) of the Ka'bah and the Maqam Ibrahim. A mission will be sent to him from Syria. He will disappear with them into the desert between Mecca and Medina. When the people see that, the saints 852 from Syria will come to him, and groups of 'Iraqis, and they will render the oath of allegiance to him. Then, a man from the Quraysh will arise, whose maternal uncles are from the Kalb. He will send a (military) mission to them, and it will defeat them. This is the mission of the Kalb. No success will come to those who did not witness (the seizing of) booty by the Kalb. He will distribute the money and act among the people according to the Sunnah of their Prophet. He will plant Islam firmly upon earth. He will last seven years. Then, he will die, and the Muslims will pray for him." Abu Dawud said: "Someone said on the authority of Hisham: 853 'Nine years.' Others said: 'Seven years.' "
Abu Dawud also transmitted the same tradition according to Abul-Khalil's recension, on the authority of 'Abdallah b. al-Harith,854 on the authority of Umm Salimah. This clears up the identity of the transmitter, whose name was not mentioned in the first chain of transmitters. The persons in it are persons mentioned in the two Sahihs. One could not attack them or find fault with them.
(The tradition,) furthermore, is stated (by Abu Dawud) to have been transmitted by Qatadah 855 on the authority of Abul-Khalil. Qatadah did not actually hear the traditions he transmits, from his authorities. He says: "on the authority of," but does not say: "I heard from . . ." In cases of transmitters about whom there is doubt whether they actually heard their traditions from their authorities, a tradition is accepted only when it expressly states that they actually heard it. In this case, moreover, the tradition does not expressly state that it is concerned with the Mahdi, although Abu Dawud did, it is true, mention it in his chapters dealing with the Mahdi.
Abu Dawud, followed by al-Hakim, also published the following tradition of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri through 'Imran al-Qattan,856 on the authority of Qatadah, on the authority of Abu Nadrah,857 on the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri, who said: The Messenger of God said: "The Mahdi is from me. He has a bald forehead and an aquiline nose. He will fill the earth with equity and justice, as it had been filled with injustice and crime. He will rule seven years."
This is Abu Dawud's recension. He did not make any remarks critical of it. Al-Hakim's recension has: "The Mahdi is from us, the people of the House. He has a well formed, aquiline nose, and a bald (forehead). He will fill the earth with equity and justice, as it had been filled with injustice and crime. He will live this long-and he opened out his left hand and two fingers of his right hand, the thumb and index finger, bending (the other) three down." Al-Hakim said: "This is a sound tradition, according to the rules laid. down by Muslim (for sound traditions), but neither (alBukhari nor Muslim) published it." End of the quotation.
Scholars differ as to whether 'Imran al-Qattan can be used as evidence. Al-Bukhari published traditions of his only as additional evidence, and not as the sole basis. Yahya alQattan used not to transmit any traditions on his authority. Yahya b. Main said: "He is not strong." Once he said: "He is nothing." Ahmad b. Hanbal said: "I hope that he is sound in his traditions." Yazid b. Zuray' 858 said: "He was a Kharijite and considered it permissible to put the people of the Qiblah 859 to the sword." An-Nasa'i said: "He is weak." Abu 'Ubayd al-Ajurri 860 said: "I asked Abu Dawud about him, and he replied that he was a transmitter of 'good' traditions and that he had heard only good things (about him). Another time, I heard him mention him and say that he was weak." In the days of Ibrahim b. 'Abdallah b. Hasan,861 he gave an unfortunate legal opinion that led to bloodshed.
At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and al-Hakim published the following tradition of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri through Zayd al'Ammi,862 on the authority of Abus-Siddiq an-Naji,863 on the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri, who said: "We feared that something might happen after our Prophet (had died). Therefore we asked him, and he said: 'In my nation, there will come forth the Mahdi. He will live five, or seven, or nine'-increasing the number, as if in doubt." He said: "We asked what (the numbers meant). He replied: 'Years.' Then he continued: 'Someone will come to the Mahdi and say to him: "O Mahdi, give me something." ' He said: 'And (the Madhi) will pour into his garment as much as he can carry.' "
This is the recension of at-Tirmidhi, who said: "It is a 'good' tradition. It was transmitted in more than one way, on the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri, on the authority of the Prophet."
The recension of Ibn Majah and al-Hakim has: "There will be in my nation the Mahdi. If he lives (among you) a short time, it will be seven years; if not, it will be nine. My nation will experience a prosperity the like of which they have never experienced before. The earth will bring forth its food and will not hoard any of it. There will be piles of money. A man will get up and say: 'O Mahdi, give me something,' and he will reply: 'Just take.' " 864
Ad-Daraqutni, Ahmad b. Hanbal, and Yahya b. Main said that Zayd al-'Ammi was all right. Ahmad added that he was superior to Yazid ar-Raqashi 865 and Fadl b. 'Isa.866 However, Abu Hatim said concerning him that he was weak, and that his traditions may be written down but not used as evidence. Yahya b. Main said of him in connection with another tradition: "(He is) nothing." He once also said: "His traditions may be written down, but he is weak." AlJuzajani said: "He is just holding on (mutamasik)." Abu Zur'ah said: "He is not strong, his traditions are futile, and he is weak." Abu Hatim said: "He is not such (a good man). 867 Shu'bah transmitted traditions on his authority." An-Nasa'i said: "He is weak." Ibn 'Adi 868 said: "Most of his traditions and authorities are weak, even though Shu'bah transmitted traditions on his authority. Shu'bah possibly did not transmit traditions on the authority of anyone weaker than he."
It has been said that at-Tirmidhi's tradition is an interpretation of Jabir's , and Abu Sa'id's traditions, which are transmitted by Muslim in the Sahih.969 Jabir said: "The Messenger of God said: 'At the end of my nation, there will be a caliph who will not count money, but just throw it around.' " Abu Sa'id's tradition reads: ". . . among your caliphs a caliph who will throw the money around." As transmitted by another chain of transmitters, the tradition on the authority of (Jabir and Abu Sa'id) reads: "At the end of time, there will be a caliph who will distribute money without counting it." End of the quotation.
Muslim's traditions do not mention the Mahdi, and there is nothing in them to show that the Mahdi is meant in them.
Another tradition was transmitted by al-Hakim through 'Awf al-A'rabi,870 on the authority of Abu s-Siddiq an-Naji, on the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri, who said: "The Messenger of God said: 'The Hour will not arise before the earth is filled with injustice, crime, and transgression. Then there will come forth from my family one who will fill it with equity and justice, as it had been filled with crime and transgression.' "
Al-Hakim said with regard to (this tradition): "It is sound according to the conditions (for the soundness of traditions) laid down by (al-Bukhari and Muslim), though none of them published it."
The following tradition, furthermore, was transmitted by al-Hakim through Sulayman b. 'Abid,871 on the authority of Abu s-Siddiq an-Naji, on the authority of Abu Sa'id alKhudri: "The Messenger of God said: 'At the end of my nation, there will come forth the Mahdi. God will give him spring rain to drink, and the earth will sprout forth its plants. He will give money away in fairness.872 The cattle will become numerous, and the nation will be great. He will live seven, or eight-that is, seasons.' " (Al-Hakim) said with regard to (this tradition) that it is a sound one as far as its chain of transmitters is concerned, though neither (alBukhari nor Muslim) published it. Also, none of the authors of the six authoritative collections of traditions published a tradition of Sulayman b. 'Abid. However, Ibn Hibban 873 mentioned him in the Thiqat (on reliable transmitters). We have seen nobody who discussed him (adversely).
This tradition was also transmitted by al-Hakim through Asad b. Musa,874 on the authority of Hammad b. Salamah,875 on the authority of Matar al-Warraq 876 and Abu Harun al'Abdi,877 on the authority of Abu s-Siddiq an-Naji, on the authority of Abu Sa'id, as follows: "The Messenger of God said: 'The earth will be filled with injustice and crime, and there will come forth a man from my family. He will rule seven or nine, and the earth will be filled with justice and equity, as it had been filled with injustice and crime.' "
Al-Hakim said with regard to (this tradition) that it was sound according to the conditions (for the soundness of traditions) laid down by Muslim. He mentioned Muslim because he published traditions on the authority of Hammad b. Salamah and his shaykh, Matar al-Warraq. He published no traditions on the authority of Hammad's other shaykh, Abu Harun al-'Abdi. Abu Harun is very weak and suspected of lying. There is no need to present in detail the opinions of the religious leaders who consider (Abu Harun) weak.
Asad b. Musa, who transmits the tradition on the authority of Hammad b. Salamah, is called "The Lion (asad) of the Sunnah." Al-Bukhari said that he is known (favorably) with regard to the traditions he transmits. 878 He used him to support the reliability of traditions in his Sahih. Abu Dawud and an-Nasa'i used him as evidence. However, (an-Nasa'i) said on another occasion: "He is reliable, but it would have been better for him if he had not become an author." Abu Muhammad b. Hazm 879 said regarding him: "He is not known (favorably) with regard to the traditions he transmits."
The tradition was also transmitted by at-Tabarani in his Medium Mu'jam, as transmitted by Abul-Wasil 'Abd-alHamid b. Wasil,880 on the authority of Abu s-Siddiq an-Naji, on the authority of al-Hasan b. Yazid as-Sa'di,881 one of the Banu Bahdalah, on the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri, who said: "I heard the Messenger of God say: 'There will come forth a man from my nation who will talk according to my Sunnah. God will send upon him rain from heaven, and the earth will sprout forth for him its blessing. The earth will be filled through him with equity and justice, as it has been filled with injustice and crime. He will direct the affairs of this nation for seven years, and he will settle in Jerusalem.' "
At-Tabarani said concerning (this tradition): "It was transmitted by a number of persons on the authority of Abu s-Siddiq. None of them inserted another transmitter between him and Abu Sa'id, except Abu 1-Wasil. He transmitted it on the authority of al-Hasan b. Yazid, on the authority of Abu Sa'id.- End of the quotation.
This al-Hasan b. Yazid was mentioned by Ibn Abi Hatim, 881a who has no more information on him than that chain of transmitters, in which he appears as a transmitter on the authority of Abu Sa'id, and in which Abu s-Siddiq appears as a transmitter on his authority. In the Mizan, adh-Dhahabi said that he was little known but was mentioned by Ibn Hibban in the Thiqat (on reliable transmitters) 882 No tradition of Abul-Wasil, who functions as transmitter of (this tradition) on the authority of Abu s-Siddiq, was published by any of the six authors of authoritative collections of traditions. He was mentioned by Ibn Hibban in the Thiqat (on reliable transmitters), in the second class. (Ibn Hibban) said regarding him: "He transmitted traditions on the authority of Anas, and Shu'bah and 'Attab b. Bashir 883 transmitted traditions on his authority."
In his Kitab as-Sunan, Ibn Majah published the following tradition of 'Abdallah b. Masud through Yazid b. Abi Ziyad,884 on the authority of Ibrahim,885 on the authority of 'Algamah,886 on the authority of 'Abdallah, who said: "While we were with the Messenger of God, there came some Hashimite youths. When he saw them, tears welled forth from his eyes and his color changed." He said: "I said: 'For some time now we have observed something in your face we do not like.' He answered: 'For us, the people of the House, God has chosen the other world instead of this one. After me, my people will experience misfortune, exile, and banishment, until people shall come from the East with black flags. They will ask for goodness but they will not be given it. They will fight and they will be victorious. And they will be given what they had asked for, but they will not accept it. Eventually, they will hand (the earth) over to a man of my family. He will fill it with equity, as they had filled it with injustice. Those among you who live to see that happen shall go to them, even if it is necessary to creep over the snow.' " End of the quotation.
The hadith transmitters know this tradition as "the tradition of the flags." Its transmitter is Yazid b. Abi Ziyad. Shu'bah said regarding him: "He was a person who traced back to Muhammad traditions that are not known to have been transmitted with a chain of transmitters going back to him." Muhammad b. Fudayl 887 said: "He is one of the great religious leaders of the Shi'ah." Ahmad b. Hanbal said: "He was no hadith expert." Once he said: "He is not such (a good man)." Yahya b. Main said: "He is weak." Al-'Ijli said: "His traditions are permissible. At the end, he used to understand things." Abu Zur'ah 888 said: "He is soft.889 His traditions may be written down, but they cannot be used as evidence." Abu Hatim said: "He is not strong." Al-Juzajant said: "I heard them declare his traditions weak." Abu Dawad said: "I do not know anyone who omitted his traditions, but I like others better than him." Ibn 'Adi said: "He belongs to the Shi'ah of al-Kilfah. In spite of his weakness, his traditions may be written down." 890 Muslim transmitted traditions of his but only when the same traditions were also transmitted with other chains of transmitters. In general, the majority considered him weak. Religious leaders have pronounced openly on the weakness of the tradition of the flags that was transmitted by him on the authority of Ibrahim, on the authority of 'Alqamah, on the authority of 'Abdallah. Waki' b. al-Jarrah 891 said regarding it: "It is nothing." The same was said by Ahmad b. Hanbal. Abu Qudamah 892 said: "I heard Abu Usamah 893 say, regarding Yazid's tradition about the flags on the authority of Ibrahim: 'Were he to swear me fifty oaths, I should not believe him. Is that Ibrahim's way? Is that 'Algamah's way? Is that 'Abdallah's way?' " Al'Uqayli mentioned this tradition in the Du'afd' (on weak transmitters). Adh-Dhahabi said: "It is not sound." 894
The following tradition of 'Ali was published by Ibn Majah, as transmitted by Yasin al-'Ijli,895 on the authority of Ibrahim b. Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyah,896 on the authority of Ibrahim's father, on the authority of his grandfather ('Ali), who said: "The Messenger of God said: 'The Mahdi is from among us, the people of the House. God will give him success in one night.' "
Although Ibn Ma'in said, regarding Yasin al-'Ijli, that there was nothing wrong with him, al-Bukhari said that he was disputed.897 In al-Bukhari's terminology, that is a strong expression for declaring a transmitter weak. The tradition of Yasin was quoted by Ibn 'Adi in the Kamil and by adhDhahabl in the Mizdn, with disapproval. (Adh-Dhahabi) said: "It is known as his (tradition)." 898 The following tradition of 'Ali was published by atTabarani in his Medium Mu`jam: " 'All said to the Messenger of God: 'Will the Mahdi be from among us or from among other people, O Messenger of God?' Muhammad replied: 'Indeed, he will be from among us. Through us, God will bring about the end, as he brought about the beginning. Through us, they shall be saved from polytheism, and through us, God shall unite them after open hostilities, as he united them through us after the hostilities of polytheism.' 'Ali said: 'Will they be believers or unbelievers?' Muhammad replied: 'Rebel(s) and unbeliever(s).' " End of the quotation.
(The chain of transmitters of this tradition) includes 'Abdallah b. Lahi'ah.899 He is weak, and it is well known what the matter is with him. (The same chain) also includes 'Amr b. Jabir al-Hadrami.900 He is even weaker than Ibn Lahi'ah. Ahmad b. Hanbal said: "He ('Amr b. Jabir) transmitted disapproved things on the authority of Jabir.901 I have heard that he used to lie." An-Nasa'i said: "He is not reliable." Ibn Lahi'ah said: "He was a stupid, weak-minded shaykh. He used to say: "Ali is in the clouds.' He was sitting with us, and when he saw a cloud, he would say: 'There goes 'Ali passing by in a cloud.' " 902
Another tradition of 'Ali was also published by at-Tabarani: "The Messenger of God said: 'At the end of time, there will be a rebellion in which people will be caught as firmly as gold is embedded in the ore. Do not slander the Syrians, but only the bad ones among them, because among them there are (also) saints.903 Soon a downpour will be sent from heaven upon the Syrians. It will divide them so much that if nothing (stronger) than foxes were going to fight them, they would be defeated. At that time, there will come forth one from among my family and there will be with him three flags (regiments), comprising, according to the highest figure given, fifteen thousand men, or, according to the lowest figure, twelve thousand men. Their order of the day will be: Kill, kill. They will encounter seven flags (regiments), each of which will be commanded by a man who seeks royal authority. But God will kill all of them. He will restore to the Muslims their unity, prosperity, remote (possessions), and judgment.' " End of the quotation.
The chain of transmitters of that tradition includes 'Abdallah b. Lahi'ah. He is weak, and it is well known what the matter is with him. (The tradition) was transmitted by al-Hakim in his Mustadrak. He said: "It is sound with regard to the chain of transmitters, but (al-Bukhari and Muslim) did not publish it." (Al-Hakim's) recension has: ". . . Then, there will appear the Hashimite, and God will restore to the people their unity, etc." (AI-Hakim's) chain of transmitters does not include Ibn Lahi'ah. It is, as he states, a sound chain.
The following tradition of 'Ali was published by alHakim in the Mustadrak, as transmitted by Abu t-Tufayl, on the authority of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyah, who said: "We were with 'Ali, and someone asked him about the Mahdi. 'Ali replied: 'Look here.' Then he made a seven with his fingers and said: 'He is the one who will come forth at the end of time. When someone says (at that time): God, God! he will be killed. God will gather for him people who are scattered like stray clouds. He will unite them. They will be neither sad nor glad over anyone who joins them. In number they will be like the fighters at Badr, whom men of former times did not surpass and men of later times fell short of. They will also be like the number of the companions of Saul who crossed the river with him.' " 904 Abu t-Tufayl said: "Ibn al-Hanafiyah said: 'Do you want (to hear) it?' I said: 'Yes.' (So) he continued: 'He will come forth between these two mountains.' 905 I said: 'By God, I shall assuredly not leave them until I die.' "-And he died in it, that is, Mecca.
Al-Hakim said: "This is a sound tradition according to the conditions (for sound traditions) laid down by (alBukhari and Muslim)." End of the quotation.
However, it is (sound) only according to the conditions laid down by Muslim, for in (the chain of transmitters) there occur the names of 'Ammar ad-Duhni 906 and Yunus b. Abi Ishaq.907 Al-Bukhari did not publish any traditions of these two men. It also includes 'Amr b. Muhammad al-'Angazi.908 Al-Bukhari did not publish traditions of his as evidence, though he did publish them to support the reliability of traditions. In addition, there also is the pro-Shl'ah sentiment of 'Ammar ad-Duhni. Although Ahmad (b. Hanbal), Ibn Ma'in, Abu Hatim, an-Nasa'i, and others considered him reliable, 'Ali b. al-Madini 909 said on the authority of Sufyan 910 that Bishr b. Marwan 911 had disqualified him. "In what respect?" I (Sufyan) asked. He replied: "In respect to his pro-Shi'ah sentiment."
The following tradition of Anas b. Malik was published by Ibn Majah, as transmitted by Sa'd b. 'Abd-al-Hamid b. Ja'far,912 on the authority of 'Ali b. Ziyad al-Yamami,913 on the authority of 'Ikrimah b. 'Ammar,914 on the authority of Ishaq b. 'Abdallah,915 on the authority of Anas, who said: "I heard the Messenger of God say: 'We, the descendants of 'Abd-al-Muttalib, are the lords of the inhabitants of Paradise. I, Hamzah, 'Ali, Jafar, al-Hasan, al-Husayn, and the Mahdi.' " 916 End of the quotation.
Muslim published traditions of 'Ikrimah b. 'Ammar, but only where the same tradition is reported by others. Some scholars considered him weak, others reliable. Abu Hatim ar-Razi said: "He transmits traditions from authorities without stating whether he actually heard them from them. His traditions are acceptable only if he expressly states that he heard them." 916a
In the Mizan, adh-Dhahabi said with regard to 'Ali b. Ziyad: "It is not known who he is." Then, he said: "It should be 'Abdallah b. Ziyad." 917 Sa'd b. 'Abd-al-Hamid was considered reliable by Ya'qub b. Shaybah.918 Yahya b. Main said regarding him: "There is nothing wrong with him." However, ath-Thawri discussed him (adversely), because, it is said, he saw him give legal opinions on certain problems and make mistakes. Ibn Hibban said: "He belongs among those who made atrocious mistakes. He may not be used as evidence." Ahmad b. Hanbal said: "Sa'd b. 'Abd-al-Hamid claims that he heard the books of Malik when they were presented. The scholars disapprove of this statement of his. He is here in Baghdad and never made the pilgrimage, so how could he have heard them?" Adh-Dhahabi placed him among those whom it would be no slander to discuss (adversely).
The following tradition was published by al-Hakim in his Mustadrak, as transmitted by Mujahid 919 on the authority of Ibn Abbas, with a chain of transmitters stopping with the latter and not continued back to the Prophet: "Mujahid said: 'Abdallah b. 'Abbas said to me: 'If I had not heard that you are like a member of the family of Muhammad, I would not tell this tradition.' He said: Mujahid replied: 'I shall keep it in confidence. I shall not tell it to anyone to whom you might object.' Thereupon, Ibn 'Abbas said: 'From among us, the people of the House, there will be four: As-Saffah, alMundhir, al-Mansur, and the Mahdi.' He said: Mujahid asked him to explain those four to him, and Ibn 'Abbas replied: 'As-Saffah often kills his supporters and forgives his enemies. Al-Mundhir,' I believe he said, 'will give away a great deal of money. He will not consider himself a great man and will hold on to (even) his smallest rights. Al-Mansur will be given half as much help against his enemies as the Messenger of God was given. Muhammad's enemies were terrified by him for a space of two months,920 and al-Mansur's enemies will be terrified by him for a space of one month. The Mahdi will be the one who will fill the earth with justice, as it had been filled with injustice. The cattle will be safe from wild animals, and the earth will cast out the treasures of its interior.' He said, and I asked him what the treasures of the interior of the earth were. He replied: 'Something like gold and silver columns.' " End of the quotation.
Al-Hakim said: "This is a sound tradition as regards the chain of transmitters. But neither (al-Bukhari nor Muslim) published it. It is transmitted by Ismail b. Ibrahim b. Muhajir,921 on the authority of his father. Ismail is weak, and his father Ibrahim is considered weak by most scholars, even though Muslim published traditions of his."
The following tradition by Thawban was published by Ibn Majah. Thawban said: "The Messenger of God said: 'Three will fight with each other at (the place where) your treasure (is). All of them are the sons of a caliph. None of them will get it. Then, black flags will arise from the East. They will kill you in a slaughter such as there has never been before.' He then mentioned something that I do not remember. He continued: 'When you see him, render the oath of allegiance to him, even if you must creep over the snow. For he is the representative of God, the Mahdi.' " End of the quotation.
The persons named in (the chain of transmitters of this tradition) are persons whose names occur in the Sahih. 922 However, among them is that of Abu Qilabah al-Jarmi.923 Adh-Dhahabi and others mentioned that Abu Qilabah reported traditions he had not himself heard from his authorities. The chain of transmitters also includes Sufyan athThawrl. He is known for reporting traditions he had not heard from his authorities. Each of the two merely said that he had a tradition on the authority of such-and-such a person, without stating that he had heard it from him. Therefore, their traditions are not acceptable. The chain of transmitters further includes 'Abd-ar-Razzaq b. Hammam,924 who is known for his pro-Shi'ah sentiments. At the end of his life he became blind and confused. Ibn 'Adi said: "He reported traditions on the virtues (of Muhammad and the early Muslims), with regard to which no one agrees with him. Scholars considered him to have pro-Shi'ah sentiments." End of the quotation.
The following tradition of 'Abdallah b. al-Harith b. Jaz' az-Zubaydi was published by Ibn Majah through Ibn Lahi'ah, on the authority of Abu Zur'ah 'Amr b. Jabir al-Hadrami, on the authority of 'Abdallah b. al-Harith b. Jaz', who said: "The Messenger of God said: 'People will come forth from the East. They will pave the way for the Mahdi,' " that is, (for) his rule.
At-Tabarani said: "Ibn Lahi'ah stands alone with this tradition." We mentioned earlier, in connection with the tradition of 'Ali, published by at-Tabarani in his Medium Mu'jam, that Ibn Lahi'ah was weak and that his authority, 'Amr b. Jabir, was even weaker than he. 925
The following tradition was published by al-Bazzir in his Musnad and by at-Tabarani in his Medium Mu'jam-the recension (quoted here) is that of at-Tabarani-on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, on the authority of the Prophet, who said: "In my nation, there will be the Mahdi. If he lives (among you) only a short time, it will be seven, eight, or nine. My nation will experience a prosperity the like of which it has never experienced before. The heavens will rain upon them. The earth will not hoard any of its plants. There will be piles of money. A man will get up and say: 'O Mahdi, give me something,' and the Mahdi will reply: 'Just take.' " 926
At-Tabarani and al-Bazzar said: "Muhammad b. Marwan al-'Ijli 927 stands alone with this tradition." Al-Bazzar added: "We do not know whether anyone followed him in this tradition." Abu Dawud, as well as Ibn Hibban, by the way he mentions him in the Thigdt (on reliable transmitters), considered him reliable. Yahya b. Ma'in said regarding him: "He is all right." Once, he said: "There is nothing wrong with him." Still, opinions about him differ. Abu Zur'ah said: "In my opinion, he is not such (a good man)." 'Abdallah b. Ahmad b. Hanbal 928 said: "I saw Muhammad b. Marwan al'Ugayli tell traditions while I was present. I did not write them down. I purposely omitted to do so. One of our colleagues wrote down traditions on his authority, in a way that suggested he considered him weak."
The following tradition of Abu Hurayrah was published by Abu Ya'la al-Mawsili in his Musnad. Abu Hurayrah said: "My friend Abul-Qasim (the Prophet Muhammad) said: 'The Hour will not arise before there shall have come forth against them a man from my family. He will beat them until they return to the truth.' He said. And I asked: 'How long will he rule?' He replied: 'Five and two.' He said. And I asked: 'What is meant by five and two?' He replied: 'I do not know.' " End of the quotation.
The chain of transmitters includes Bashir b. Nahik.929 Abu Hatim said, regarding him: "He may not be used as evidence." Still, both (al-Bukhari and Muslim) used him as evidence, and the scholars considered him reliable. They paid no attention to Abu Hatim's statement that he may not be used as evidence. However, (the chain of transmitters also) includes Murajja b. Raja' al-Yashkuri.930 Opinions differ concerning him. Abu Zur'ah said: "He is reliable." Yahya b. Main said: "He is weak." Abu Dawud said: "He is weak," but once he said: "He is all right." Al-Bukhari has one fragment 931 of his in his Sahih.932
The following tradition of Qurrah b. Iyas was published by Abu Bakr al-Bazzar in his Musnad, and by at-Tabarani in his Large and Medium Mu'jams.933 Qurrah said: "The Messenger of God said: 'The earth will be filled with injustice and crime. When it is filled with injustice and crime, God will send a man from me whose name will be my name, and whose father's name will be my father's name. He will fill it with justice and equity, as it had been filled with injustice and crime. Heaven will not withhold its rain, nor the earth its plants. He will remain among you seven, or eight, or nine' " -that is, years.
The chain of transmitters of that tradition includes Dawud b. al-Muhabbar b. Qahdham, 934 on the authority of his father. Both Dawud and his father are very weak.
The 935 following tradition of Umm Habibah was published by at-Tabarani in his Medium Mujam. (Umm Habibah) said: "I heard the Messenger of God say: 'People will come forth from the East. They will come for a man who is at the House. They will eventually come into a desert land, and he will then disappear with them. Those who are left behind will join them. They will suffer the same fate.' 936 I said: 'O Messenger of God, how about those who were sent against their will?' He replied: 'They will suffer the same fate as the people have suffered. Then, God will resurrect each man according to the intention (that had guided him in his actions).' " End of the quotation.
The chain of transmitters of that tradition includes Salamah b. al-Abrash,937 who is weak. It also includes Muhammad b. Ishaq.938 He transmits traditions he did not hear, and he says that he had them "on the authority of" someone. His traditions are acceptable only where he expressly states that he heard them.
The following tradition of (`Abdallah) b. `Umar was (also) published by at-Tabarani in his Medium Mu'jam. Ibn 'Umar said: "The Messenger of God was in the company of some (Meccan) Emigrants and (Medinese) Helpers (Ansar). 'All b. Abi Talib was on his left, and al-`Abbas on his right. Al-'Abbas got into a dispute with one of the Ansdr, and the latter used insulting language to al-`Abbas. Thereupon, the Prophet took the hand of al-'Abbas and the hand of 'Ali and said: 'The spine of this one will produce descendants until the whole earth shall be filled with injustice and crime, and the spine of that one will produce descendants until the whole earth shall be filled with equity and justice. When you see this (happen), then take care of the Tamimite youth. He will advance from the East. He will be in charge of the flag of the Mahdi.' " End of the quotation.
The chain of transmitters of this tradition includes 'Abdallah b. `Umar al-'Umari 939 and 'Abdallah b. Lahi'ah. Both are weak.
The following tradition of Talhah b. 'Ubaydallah, on the authority of the Prophet, was published by at-Tabaranl in the Medium Mu'jam. The Prophet said: "There will be a rebellion. When one side rests, the other side will become restless. Finally, a herald will call from heaven: 'Your Commander is such-and-such.' " End of the quotation.
The chain of transmitters of that tradition includes alMuthanna b. as-Sabbah,940 who is very weak. The tradition does not expressly mention the Mahdi, but (scholars) have included it in their chapters dealing with (the Mahdi) and in his biography, by association.
These are all the traditions published by the religious authorities concerning the Mahdi and his appearance at the end of time. One has seen what they are like. Very few 941 are above criticism.
Those who disapprove of the (Mahdi) matter frequently keep to the tradition of Muhammad b. Khalid al-Janadi,942 on the authority of Aban b. Salih b. Abi 'Ayyash 943 on the authority of al-Hasan al-Basri,944 on the authority of Anas b. Malik, on the authority of the Prophet, who said: "There is no Mahdi except Jesus, the son of Mary."
Yahya b. Ma'in said, regarding Muhammad b. Khalid al-Janadi, that he was reliable. Al-Bayhaqi 945 said: "Muhammad b. Khalid stands alone with (this tradition)." AlHakim said, regarding Muhammad b. Khalid, that he was a little-known personage.
There are differences in the chain of transmitters of (this tradition). Sometimes it is transmitted as quoted. In this form, it is attributed to Muhammad b. Idris ash-Shafi'l. Sometimes the tradition is transmitted on the authority of Muhammad b. Khalid, on the authority of Aban, on the authority of al-Hasan, on the authority of the Prophet, thus skipping one link in the chain. Al-Bayhaqi says: "Thus, (the tradition) is one transmitted by Muhammad b. Khalid, who is little known, on the authority of Aban b. Abi 'Ayyash, who is not accepted, on the authority of al-Hasan, on the authority of the Prophet, which makes it a tradition with an interrupted chain of transmitters. In general, the tradition is weak and disturbed."
It has also been said that the statement: "There is no Mahdi except Jesus," means that nobody spoke in the cradle (mahd) except Jesus. 946 This interpretation is intended to prevent use of (the tradition) as evidence (for Mahdism) or its combination with the (other) traditions (that speak about the Mahdi). 947 It is refuted by the story of Jurayj 948 and similar miracles (which show that Jesus was not the only infant to speak in the cradle).
(Sufi opinions about the Mahdi)
The ancient Sufis did not go into anything concerned with (the Mahdi). All they discussed was their (mystic) activity and exertion and the resulting ecstatic experiences and states. It was the Imamiyah and the extremist Shi'ah who discussed the preferred status of 'Ali, the matter of his imamate, the claim (made in his behalf) to have received the imamate through the last will (of the Prophet), 949 and the rejection of the two Shaykhs (Abu Bakr and 'Umar), as we have mentioned in connection with the discussion of Shi'ah dogmatics.950 Thereafter, there originated among them the dogma of the Infallible Imam 951 Much was written on (Shi'ah) dogmatics. The Isma'iliyah Shi'ah made its appearance. It asserted the divinity of the imam through incarnation. Others asserted that the (dead) imams would return, either through metempsychosis or (in the very form they had had during their lifetime). Still others expected the coming of imams who would be cut off from them through death. Others, finally, expected that the family of Muhammad would return to power. They deduced this from the afore-mentioned traditions concerning the Mahdi, and from other traditions.
Among the later Sufis, removal (of the veil, kashf) and matters beyond the veil of sense perception likewise came to be discussed. A great many Sufis came to speak about incarnation and oneness. 951a This gave them something in common with the Imamiyah and the extremist Shi'ah who believed in the divinity of the imams and in the incarnation of the deity in them. The Sufis also came to believe in a "pole" (qutb) and in "saints" (abdal). This (belief) looked like an imitation of the opinions of the extremist Shi'ah concerning the imam and the 'Alid "chiefs" (nugabd').952
The Sufis thus became saturated with Shi'ah theories. (Shi'ah) theories entered so deeply into their religious ideas that they based their practice of using a cloak (khirgah) on the (alleged) fact that 'All clothed al-Hasan al-Basri in such a cloak and caused him to agree solemnly that he would adhere to the mystic path. (The tradition thus inaugurated by 'Ali) was continued, according to the Sufis, through al-Junayd,953 one of the Sufi shaykhs.
However, it is not known with certainty that 'Ali did any such thing. The (mystic) path was not reserved to 'Ali, but all the men around Muhammad were models of the (various) paths of religion. The fact that (the Sufis) restrict (precedence in mysticism) to 'All smells strongly of pro-Shi'ah sentiment. This and other afore-mentioned Sufi ideas show that the Sufis have adopted, pro-Shl'ah sentiments and have become enmeshed in them.
Therefore, the books of the extremist Isma'iliyah (Shi'ah) and the books of the later Sufis are full of ideas concerning the expected Fatimid. They were passed on through dictation and teaching. All (these speculations) are built upon brittle foundations. This applies to both parties. Some (Sufis and Shi'ah) occasionally base themselves in this connection on astrological discussions of astral conjunctions. (The result is) a sort of predictions (maldhim), as will be discussed in the following chapter.
Most (prominent) among the later Sufis who discuss the Fatimid are Ibn al-'Arabi al-Hatimi,954 in the 'Anqa' Mughrib; Ibn Qasi,955 in the Kitab Khal' an-na'layn; 'Abd-al-Hagq b. Sab'in; 956 and one of (Ibn Sab'in's) pupils, Ibn Abi Watil,957 in his commentary on the Kitab Khal' an-na'layn. When they speak about (the Fatimid), they mostly speak in riddles and parables. Occasionally, they make a minimum of explicit statements, or their commentators make explicit statements.
According to Ibn Abi Watil, the sum of their beliefs in connection with (the Fatimid) is that (in pre-Islamic times) there had been error and blindness. Then, truth and right guidance made their appearance through prophecy. Prophecy was followed by the caliphate, and the caliphate, in turn, was followed by royal authority. Royal authority, then, reverted to tyranny, presumptuousness, and worthlessness. They said: And since it has been observed to be God's procedure to have things return to their original state, prophecy and truth will by necessity be revived through sainthood (wilayah). Sainthood will be followed by the stage that properly comes after it (caliphate). (This,) in turn, will be followed by the time of the Antichrist (dajl), which will take the place of royal authority and the rule of power. Then, unbelief will return to the old position it occupied before the coming of the prophecy (of Muhammad).
This refers to the caliphate which came after the prophecy, and to the royal authority which followed the caliphate. These are three stages. Likewise, the sainthood of the Fatimid, who will revive prophecy and righteousness, the stage (caliphate) that properly follows upon the Fatimid, and then the time of the Antichrist, which will follow after it and which is that state of worthlessness alluded to in the expression "appearance of the Antichrist" - these are three stages corresponding to the first three. Then, unbelief will return to the existence it had had before the prophecy (of Muhammad).
Now, the caliphate, they continued, belongs legally to the Quraysh, according to the general consensus which cannot be weakened by the disapproval of people who have insufficient knowledge.958 Therefore, the imamate belongs, of necessity, to a person who is even closer to the Prophet than the Quraysh. (This he may be) either externally, by being a descendant of 'Abd-al-Muttalib, or inwardly, by belonging to Muhammad's "family," according to the real meaning of "family," which means those at the time of whose presence the one who is their "family" is not absent.959
In his Kitab 'Anqa' Mughrib, Ibn al-'Arabi al-Hatimi called (the Mahdi) "the Seal of the Saints." 960 He is known under the name of "the silver brick," with reference to a tradition reported by al-Bukhari in the chapter on the Seal of the Prophets (in the book on Mandqib), which says: "Muhammad said: 'I and the prophets before me are like a man who built a house and finished it save for one brick still to be placed. I am this brick.' " 961 Therefore, the (scholars) interpret "the Seal of the Prophets" 962 as the brick needed for the completion of the building. It means the prophet who has obtained the perfect prophecy. Sainthood in its different degrees is compared (by the Sufis) to prophecy. The perfect (saint) is considered to be the "seal" of the saints, that is, the saint who is in the possession of the rank that is the final ("sealing") stage of sainthood, exactly as "the Seal of the Prophets" was the prophet who was in possession of the rank that is the final ("sealing") stage of prophecy. In the tradition quoted, the Lawgiver (Muhammad) used the phrase, "the brick (that completes) the house," for that final stage. The two things correspond to each other. Thus, (they may be compared) to bricks (of different materials). In the case of prophecy, the brick is gold. In the case of sainthood, the brick is silver. The difference in importance existing between the two stages corresponds to the difference (in value) that exists between gold and silver. "Gold brick" is used as a name for the Prophet, and "silver brick" as a name for the expected Fatimid saint. The one is "the Seal of the Prophets," and the other "the Seal of the Saints."
Ibn al-'Arab! 963 said, as reported by Ibn Abi Watil: This expected imam is a member of the family of Muhammad and a descendant of Fatimah. His appearance will take place when kh-f-j years have passed after the Hijrah. -He wrote down three letters. He meant their numerical value, 964 kh being 600, f 80, and j 3. This makes 683 years, or the end of the seventh [thirteenth] century. When this time had passed and (the Mahdi) had not appeared, some of those who accepted the tradition were forced to assume that the number meant the date of the birth of (the Mahdi) - "appearance" meaning birth - and that he would come forth in 710 . He would be the imam who would come forth from the region of the Maghrib. He said: If, as Ibn al-'Arabi thinks, his birth is in the year 683 [1284/85], he must be twenty-six years old at the time of his appearance. He said: They (also) thought that the Antichrist would come forth in the year 743  965 of the Muhammadan day. In their opinion, the Muhammadan day begins with the day of the death of the Prophet and lasts to the completion of the year 1000.
In his commentary on the Kitab Khal' an-na'layn, Ibn Abi Watil said: The expected saint who will take charge of God's command, who is referred to under the names of Muhammad al-Mahdi and Seal of the Saints: He is no prophet. He is a saint, sent by his spirit and his friend. Muhammad said: "The scholar is among his people what the prophet is in his nation." He also said: "The scholars of my nation are like the prophets of the children of Israel." The glad tidings of his (coming) will never cease (to be heard) from the beginning of the Muhammadan day to shortly before the year 500 [1106/7], which is the middle of (that) day. They will become stronger and more numerous as the result of the shaykhs' jubilant announcements of the approach of (the Mahdi's) coming and the coming of his period, from the end of (the year 500) onward.
Al-Kindi,966 he continued, mentioned that that saint will be the person who will say the noon prayer with the people. He will renew Islam and cause justice to triumph. He will conquer the Spanish peninsula and reach Rome and conquer it. He will travel to the East and conquer it. He will conquer Constantinople, and rule over the whole earth will be his. The Muslims will become strong, Islam will be exalted, and the pristine religion (din al-hanifiyah) will come forth. From noon prayer to afternoon prayer, will be (one) prayer time. Muhammad said: "(The time) between the two is a (prayer) time." 967
Al-Kindi also said: "The sum total of the numerical value of the Arabic letters that have no diacritical points - he means, the letters at the beginning of certain surahs of the Qur'an 968 is 743 Antichristian (years). Then, Jesus will descend at the time of the afternoon prayer. The world will be prosperous. The sheep will go with the wolf. After the (non-Arabs) have become Muslims with Jesus, the non-Arab kingdom will last 160 years in all-that is; (the sum of the letters) q -y-n. Forty of these 160 years will be the rule of justice."
Ibn Abi Watil said: Muhammad's statement, "There is no Mahdi except Jesus," means that there is no one who is guided (mahdi) as well as Jesus. It has also been said (to mean that) nobody spoke in the cradle except Jesus. This (interpretation, however,) is refuted by the story of Jurayj and other (stories).969
It has been mentioned in (the sound tradition of) the Sahih that Muhammad said: "This (Muslim) state will not cease to be until the Hour arises," or: ". . . until the (Muslims) have been ruled by twelve caliphs"-that is, from the Quraysh 970 The facts suggest that some of them were at the beginning of Islam, and that some of them will be at its end. Muhammad said: "The caliphate after me will last for thirty,971 or thirty-one, or thirty-six (years)." It ends with the caliphate of al-Hasan and the beginning of the caliphate of Mu'awiyah. The beginning of the rule of Mu'awiyah is a caliphate only according to the original meaning of the word. He is the sixth of the caliphs. The seventh caliph is 'Umar b. 'Abd-al-'Aziz. The remaining five (of the twelve caliphs mentioned in the tradition) are five of 'Ali's descendants, members of Muhammad's family.
This is supported by (Muhammad's) statement, "You are the possessor of its two periods (garn)"-meaning (the two periods of) the nation (the beginning and the end). That is, you ('Ali) are the caliph at its beginning, and your descendants will be caliphs at its end. The tradition is often used as evidence by those who believe in "the return" (of conditions).972 The first (to return) is the person to whom they refer in connection with "the rising of the sun from the west." 973
Muhammad said: "When the emperor of the Persians has perished, there will be no Persian emperor after him, and when the Byzantine emperor has perished, there will be no Byzantine emperor after him. By God, I assure you, the treasures of both of them will be spent in God's behalf." - 'Umar b. al-Khattab spent the treasure of the Persian emperor in behalf of God. "He who will destroy the Byzantine emperor and will spend his treasures in God's behalf will be the expected (Mahdi) when he conquers Constantinople. The ruler of Constantinople will be an excellent one, and the army (that will conquer Constantinople) will be an excellent one." 974 This was said by Muhammad. "And the duration of his rule will be a few (years)." A "few" means between three and nine, or up to ten. Forty is also mentioned. In some recensions, it is seventy. "Forty" refers to the length of the period of (the Mahdi) and of the period of the four remaining caliphs of his family who will be in charge of his affairs after him -all of them be blessed.
He continued: The astrologers mentioned that the duration of his rule and that of the members of his family after him will be 159 years. The form of government will thus be a caliphate and a rule of justice for forty or seventy years. Then conditions will change, and (the form of government) will be royal authority. End of the quotation from Ibn Abi Watil.
In another passage, he said: "The final descent of Jesus will be at the time of the afternoon prayer, when threefourths of the Muhammadan day have passed."
He said: "Ya'qub b. Ishaq al-Kindi stated in the Kitab al-Jafr 975 in which he mentioned the conjunctions: When the conjunction reaches Aries at the beginning of d-h 976 that is, in the year 698 [1298/99] of the Hijrah-the Messiah will descend. He will rule the earth as it pleases God." 977
He continued: "It has been stated in the tradition that Jesus will descend at the white minaret east of Damascus. He will descend between two yellowish colored ones, that is, two light saffron-yellow colored garments. 978 He will place his hands upon the wings of two angels. His hair is as long as though he had just been released from a dungeon. When he lowers his head, it rains, and when he lifts it up, jewels resembling pearls pour down from him. He has many moles on his face. Another tradition has: 'Square built and reddish white.' Still another has: 'He will marry in the gharb'-(the word) gharb meaning 'bucket as used by Bedouins.' 979 Thus, the meaning is that he will take a woman from among (the Bedouins) as his wife. She will bear his children."
(The tradition also) mentions that (Jesus) will die after forty years. It is (also) said that Jesus will die in Medina and be buried at the side of 'Umar b. al-Khattab. And it is said that Abu Bakr and 'Umar will rise from the dead between two prophets (Muhammad and Jesus).
Ibn Abi Watil continued: "The Shi'ah say that he is the Messiah, the chief Messiah from the family of Muhammad. Some of the (Shi'ah) referred to him the tradition: 'There is no Mahdi except Jesus.' That is: There will be no Mahdi except the Mahdi whose relationship to the Muhammadan religious law is like the relationship of Jesus to the Mosaic religious law, in that he follows it and does not abrogate it."
There are many similar such statements. The time, the man, and the place are clearly indicated in them. But the (predicted) time passes, and there is no slightest trace of (the prediction coming true). Then, some new suggestion is adopted which, as one can see, is based upon linguistic equivocations, imaginary ideas, and astrological judgments. The life of every one of those people is spent on such things.
Most of our contemporary Sufis refer to the (expected) appearance of a man who will renew the Muslim law and the ordinances of the truth. They assume that his appearance will take place at some time near our own period. Some of them say that he will be one of the descendants of Fatimah. Others speak about him (only) in general terms. We have heard that from a number of them. The greatest of these Sufis is Abu Ya'qub al-Badisi, the chief saint of the Maghrib. He lived at the beginning of the eighth [fourteenth] century. His grandson, our colleague, Abu Zakariya' Yahya, told me that on the authority of his father Abu Muhammad 'Abdallah, on the authority of his father, the mentioned saint Abu Ya'qub.980
This is all we have read or heard about (such) discussions by those Sufis and all the information hadith scholars relate concerning the Mahdi. As much as it has been in our power, we have presented the material exhaustively. The truth one must know is that no religious or political propaganda can be successful, unless power and group feeling exist to support the religious and political aspirations and to defend them against those who reject them, until God's will with regard to them materializes. We have established this before, with natural arguments which we presented to the reader.981
The group feeling of the Fatimids and the Talibids, indeed, that of all the Quraysh, has everywhere disappeared. There are other nations, whose group feeling has gained the upper hand over that of the Quraysh. The only exception is a remnant of the Talibids-Hasanids, Husaynids, and Ja'farites 982 - in the Hijaz, in Mecca, al-Yanbu', and Medina. They are spread over these regions and dominate them. They are Bedouin groups. They are settled and rule in different places and hold divergent opinions. They number several thousands. If it is correct that a Mahdi is to appear, there is only one way for his propaganda to make its appearance. He must be one of them, and God must unite them in the intention to follow him, until he gathers enough strength and group feeling to gain success for his cause and to move the people to support him. Any other way -such as a Fatimid who would make propaganda for (the cause of the Mahdi) among people anywhere at all, without the support of group feeling and power, by merely relying on his relationship to the family of Muhammad - will not be feasible or successful, for the sound reasons that we have mentioned previously.
The common people, the stupid mass, who make claims with respect to the Mahdi and who are not guided in this connection by any intelligence or helped by any knowledge, assume that the Mahdi may appear in a variety of circumstances and places. They follow blindly the well-known (traditions) about the appearance of a Fatimid. They do not understand the real meaning of the matter, as we have explained it. They mostly assume that the appearance will take place in some remote province and at the limits of civilization, such as the Zab in Ifriqiyah or as-Sus in the Maghrib. There are many people of weak intelligence who journey to a monastery (ribat) at Massah 983 near as-Sus. They assume that they (will be able) to meet him there, thinking that he will appear at that monastery and that the oath of allegiance will be rendered to him there. Also, that monastery is close to the Veiled Gudalah, and they believe that (the Mahdi) will be one of them, or that they will be in charge of his propaganda. This is a conjecture that has no basis except the fact that these nations are strange ones and too remote (for others) to have a definite knowledge of their numbers and their weakness or strength. Also, the regions where they live are out of the reach of the (ruling) dynasties and outside of their authority. Therefore, (people) firmly imagine that the Mahdi will appear there, since these regions are not under the control of (ruling) dynasties and out of the reach of law and force. They have nothing else to go on except that. Many weak-minded people, therefore, go to that place (Ribat Massah), in order to support a deceptive cause that the human soul in (its) delusion and stupidity leads them to believe capable of succeeding. Many of them have been killed.
Our shaykh, Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-Abili, told me that at the beginning of the eighth [fourteenth] century, during the reign of Sultan Yusuf b. Ya'qub 984 a man who practiced Sufism came forth in the Ribat Massah. He was known as at-Tuwayziri, a gentilic formation from Tozeur (Tf zar), in the diminutive form. He claimed to be the expected Fatimid. Many of the Zanigah 985 and Guzfilah inhabitants of as-Sus followed him. His power grew and was about to flourish. The Masmudah chiefs feared that he might become dangerous to their rule. Therefore, as-Saksiwi hired someone who killed him in his home, at night, and his power dissolved. 986
Likewise, in the last decade of the seventh [thirteenth] century, a man who had the name al-'Abbas appeared among the Ghumarah. He claimed to be the Fatimid. He gained followers among the great mass of the Ghumarah. He entered Badis by force and burned down the business section of the city. Then, he traveled to the place al-Mazammah. There, he was killed by deceit, and thus failed (to achieve his purpose). 987
There are many things of the sort. Our afore-mentioned
shaykh told me a
strange story of this type. On his pilgrimage
(to Mecca), upon leaving the Monastery of the Worshippers
which is the burial place of Shaykh
Abu Madyan on the mountain overlooking Tlemcen, he met
a man from Kerbela who belonged to the family of Muhammad. He had many followers and was held in high esteem.
He also had many pupils and servants. (The
People from his native town paid for his expenses in most
In recent times there has been a movement among the Arab population of the Maghrib to make propaganda for the Truth and for living by the Sunnah, but which does not make propaganda for the Fatimid or anybody else. At times, a few individuals have aimed at re-establishing the Sunnah and changing reprehensible ways. Such individuals occupy themselves with this (purpose) and gain many followers. They are mostly concerned with the improvement of the safety of the roads, since most of the corruption of the Bedouins has something to do with that, on account of the way Bedouins make their livelihood, as we have mentioned before.992 These individuals consider it their task to change reprehensible ways (among the Bedouins) through improving the safety of the roads as much as possible. However, the religious coloring cannot be firmly established in the Arabs. For them, repentance and return to the religion merely mean refraining from raids and robberies. That is the only thing they understand by repentance and becoming religious. (Raids and robberies) were the sins they committed before they repented, and these were the things of which they repented. Therefore, those who follow the (new religious) propaganda and live, as they think, by the Sunnah, are not deeply immersed in the different ways of seeking and following (religious models). Their religion is merely abstinence from robbery and injustice and from making the roads unsafe. Beyond that, they continue most eagerly to search for worldly goods and for ways of making a living. There is a great difference between looking for religious ethics and searching for worldly (goods). It is impossible that the two things could go together. No religious coloring can establish a hold over such people, and they cannot completely keep away from worthlessness. (Reformers) cannot ever become numerous. The chief differs from his followers in that religion and saintliness are firmly established in him. If he perishes, their rule dissolves, and their group feeling disappears.
This happened in the seventh [thirteenth] century in Ifrigiyah to a man of the Banit Ka'b of the Sulaym, by name Qisim b. Mari 993 b. Ahmad. Later on, it happened to another man, of the Riyah Bedouins, who belonged to one of the subtribes of the Riyah, known as the Muslim. His name was Sa'idah. He was more religious and devoted than the former (Qasim). In spite of that, his followers were not successful, for the reasons mentioned. We shall mention (these events) in their proper places in connection with the discussion of the Sulaym. and Riyah. 994
After that, there appeared (other) people to make such (religious) propaganda. They adopted similarly deceptive ideas. They followed the Sunnah in name only, but did not live by it, except for a very few. Neither they nor any of their successors had any success.
This is how God proceeds with His servants.