In the name of Allah Who states “Before this We wrote in Psalms, after the message (given to Moses): My servants the righteous, shall inherit the earth” Anbiya:105 May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His chosen servant, Prophet Muhammad and his purified progeny, who is an authentic tradition said " if but one day remains of the life of the world, Allah will prolong it and make a man rise from my descendants to fill the earth with justice after having been brimming over with injustice" Ithbat Al-Huda: V3, P608.
Of the specifics of Sha' ban the eighth month of the Islamic calendar though variedly viewed was the historic birth of Imām Muḥammad Al-Mahdi, the last successor of the Prophet who will fight global oppression and hegemony to establish global justice.
Based on the Shi’ite sources, he was born on 15 the of this month, 255 years after the hijra. Niṣfu Sha' ban night is specially observed only second to the famous night of majesty, and its day greatly celebrated as his birthday.
To start the week’s discourse, we may ask who is Imām Al-Mahdī? To what extent is Mahdīsm conversant with Islām and other religions. When, where and how are the concepts explicable? How should the world prepare for this great personality? Who will be his lieutenants and opponents? And on what principle is he going to operate at the global scale?
Although Ayatollah Motahari had a clear stand on the concept of religious pluralism which he to some extent dealt in his works on divine justice four decades back, the concept has not been commonly discussed with such openness in the fold of Islam.
However, related issues have not been specific to a school or religion as many philosophers and theologians in the past have expressed varied views on that.
Prominently, John Hick, a Catholic exclusivist is considered a proponent of modern religious pluralism.
Abandoning his initial religious view, he formulated the pluralistic hypothesis claiming each religion in its way represents authentic revelation which could guarantee authentic salvation.
In view of this, he considered religious cultures as means to ultimate reality, exemplifying famous story of Hindu mystics of Elephant. The concept is passionately debated among Muslims in the West
2. and East. By extension, social pluralism in the sociological sense means a society based on a multi-faith or multi-cultural nature. With this brief introduction, I will like to touch multireligious and non-religious perspectives on the Mahdīsm.
This will cover Buddhism, Judaism, Christian and Islām including scientific versions which in this regard is a manifestation of religious pluralism. Firstly, I will like to touch the religious experiences with regard to belief in the world’s end before the advent of what Islam describes as minor and major signs indicating the coming of the ultimate Savior of mankind who will fight to establish global justice.
Like the heavenly religions, the Buddhists speak of the end simply related to what they described as circles which span in billion years. They say, at the final stage the world will be completely destroyed. They outlined stages to total annihilation mostly in seven suns which they believed will be created and consecutively extinguished in a given sequential process.
Accordingly, the suns will shine together in the skies. In the sermon, the Buddha spoke of how the suns will appear in the sky and how the planet earth will eventually be destroyed, after many hundreds and thousands of years, through a series of cataclysmic events. There are similarities in the way Buddha predicted end of the world with the scientific version of the solar system’s consequential end.
The Buddha’s version is contained in the religious sermon known as the seven suns. Given the said similarities, let’s look at the scientific theory called Snowball about the end to this life.
Some scientists set a simple example with multiplier effects of certain planetary processes with the global warming, that could lead to melting of ice which in turn could release ancient viruses into the unprepared human population.
On apparent explanation, the process is popularly described as the big crunch which is directly opposite to the big bang theory at the initial process of beginning.
Whoever wishes to find more could refer to relevant sources for more information. But some clergy misused religious authorities in confronting the scientific evolutionary trends and persecution of scientists, which resulted in their infidelity, though some the certify the theory in tandem with consequential judgement.
3. Despite the apparent changes given the evolutionary trends and corrupt practices, Judaism to a large extent is considered a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on origin.
The religion differs with the Christian doctrines with regard to redemption from what they believed as the original sin, though it significantly places high values on individual morality as contained in the God-given message of Torah revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai.
Given the Judeo Christian scriptural relation, the Psalms described Death as a time when people are entered into the earth as dead and could not praise God in the first reference on resurrection as contained in Ezekiel’s vision of what was called dry bones which could be related to the content in Book of Daniel 165 BCE on the same topic.
Yes, there was a very significant issue on the afterlife that arose on the belief in the second century when the humankind will be subjected to resurrection and divine judgement.
To set Example from Christendom, world’s end is mentioned in the eschatological matters; Peter 3:10; the heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare’. What was mentioned as the day the world culminates in a series of events.
That refers to the time when man will be judged in accordance with his deeds. This is what the Bible describes as global proclamation of God’s Kingdom; a government that will replace human rulership.
The relevant aspect regarding the coming of the Savior is sometimes referred to as the second coming; second advent or Parousia in Christian scriptures regarding Return of Prophet Jesus after ascension to heaven based on messianic Prophesies.
Although this is a famous eschatological aspect of Christian belief and refers to Jesus, their views vary.
From the Islāmic point of view all will die and Allah will raise the dead for resurrection and divine justice. “What! Does man reckon, We shall not gather his Bones Yes, indeed, We are able to shape again his fingers. Q75:4.
Sheikh Muzaffar, in his book ‘‘Doctrines of the Twelver Shi’a” it is not necessary to believe in Resurrection in its details, and more than has been revealed in the Qur' an. But we must believe in those particulars which are mentioned in the Book, such as Al-Hisab (the reckoning), Al-sirāt (the bridge), Al-Mizan (the balance), Al-Janāh (paradise) and Al-Nar (Hell), Al-thawāb (reward) and Al-Iqab (punishment).
4. Generally speaking, resurrection and judgement are not in any question among the heavenly religions. Other famous religions like Buddhism also certifies related eschatological issues.
Imām Muhammad Al-Mahdi is the 12th descendent and last successor of the Prophet to re-appear for the dislodgment of global tyranny and oppression and see to Establishment of justice and equity on the same.
Though with different interpretations, all Muslims believe in the concept of this deliverer. There are many authentic traditions of the Prophet (S) that certify, among few; Abu Sa’īd narrates that “the prophet (S) said in my nation shall be a Mahdī. No matter how long he lives, he shall spend seven, eight or nine years filling the earth with justice and equity.
The earth will bring forth its plants and the sky will send down its rain; ‘Abdullāhi Ibn Mas’ud also narrated “When you see the black flags emerging from the land of Khurasan, go and seek them for among them is Allah’s successor, the Mahdī.” Abu Sa’id has also narrated:
“Towards the end of my nation shall emerge the Mahdi. Allah will bless him with rain so that the earth will bring forth its fruits; he will divide money justly and cattle will increase. He shall live around seven or eight years.”
To be continued.