Accounts regarding Hazrat Mahdi (as) are 'Mutawatir'

What Does "Mutawatir" Mean?

It is a fact agreed by almost all Islamic scholars that the hadiths reported regarding Hazrat Mahdi (as) are "mutawatir," or absolutely trustworthy. However, we first need to clarify just what "absolutely trustworthy" means. As we briefly described in the "Introduction" section, according to hadith scholars, if a report has been handed down by several people and if it is technically impossible because of their circumstances for these individuals to have come together to invent the account, then that account is known as "Mutawatir." Mutawatir accounts are known as "tawatur."

In one source the word "tawatur" is defined as follows:

"The meaning of the word 'tawatur' is 'powerful report, a report with no possibility of being false and based on a community of people'." (Hekimoglu Ismail, The Encyclopedic Ottoman Turkish-Turkish Great Dictionary, Turdav Publications p. 3003 [Büyük Lugat,Türdav Yayinları])

The meaning of the word "mutawatir" is set out as follows in various other sources:

"A hadith reported directly from the Prophet (saas) directly from the first community and independently by communities which rationally have not been able to combine in a falsehood. It is an expression of certainty. There is no possibility of asking, 'Was this hadith really uttered by the Prophet (saas)?'" (Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, Muvazzah alm al-Qalam, p. 53)

MUTAWATIR HADITH: A hadith regarding which a group of narrators could not have combined in a lie, which they have transmitted in every generation from a community like themselves, and based on something heard or seen.

It expresses certain information, its fulfillment is essential, its denial implies blasphemy, and it is beyond questioning or criticism.

Mutawatir in wording: A hadith whose words are the same in all accounts. They are "so few that they almost do not exist". An example is, "Man kadhaba alayya …" When one says, "mutawatir hadith" without being put down on record, it is perceived as "mutawatir according to the wording."

Mutawatir in meaning: Provisions expressed in different words but with a common point of agreement among them and narrated in such a way as to bear the conditions necessary to bear a "common meaning." One mutawatir form emerging from a hadith with up to 100 different verbal forms is that the Prophet of Allah (saas) "prayed while lifting his hands." (Ismail Lutfi Cakan, "Forms of the Hadith" [Hadis Usulü], IFAV, Istanbul 1993, p. 105-150)



The views of various scholars on this subject are set out below:


The existence of Hazrat Mahdi (as) and his appearance in the End Times, that he will be descended from the family of our Prophet (saas) and from the sons of Fatima (ra) are described in hadiths that attain the status of being tawatur, and it is meaningless to deny these hadiths … In true and clear hadiths that go beyond the degree of tawatur , it is proven that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will be descended from the line of Fatima, that he will appear before the world comes to an end, that he will bring justice and sovereignty to a world filled with cruelty and injustice, that the Prophet Jesus (as) will descend from the sky in his time and will perform the prayer under his leadership. (al-Barzanji, Al-Isha'ah li-ashrat al-sa'ah, p. 305)


May the mercy of Allah be upon you, there is no doubt about the existence of the Mahdi (as). It has been proven with three hundred hadiths and works, or even more. (Jasim al-Muhalhil, al-Burhan, Vol. I, p. 339)


Every Muslim must believe in and affirm the unseen knowledge imparted by the Prophet (saas), particularly the prognostication with regard to the appearance of Hazrat Mahdi (as) and the antichrist. In the face of the majority of the written proofs regarding Hazrat Mahdi (as) being true, it is impossible to consider these as inconsistent. Only the ignorant, those at war with the truth or those unable to examine their written proofs deny this. The fact is that affirming those hadiths is part of believing in our beloved Prophet (saas). Because accepting his words is a necessary part of believing in him. And the unseen belief in which Allah praises believers in the Qur'an (Surat Al-Baqara, 2-4) is the same as faith itself. (Dr. Abd al-Muhsin ibn Hamad al-Abbad, "Majallat al-Jamiah-al-Islamiyya, Year 1, No. 3, pp. 624-627)


The essence of the matter is that believing in Hazrat Mahdi (as) is a fundamental belief based on tawatur hadiths transmitted from the Prophet (saas), and belief in this is obligatory. Because under the decree of Allah (Surat Al-Baqara, 2-4), belief in the unseen revealed is a component of faith as one of the features of those having fear of Allah. None but the ignorant deny this. I beseech Allah to die in this belief, regarded as true in the Book and the Sunnah. (Muhammad Nasiruddin Al Albani, "Majallat al-Tamaddun al-Islami, No. 22, p. 646)


One of the greatest portents of the Day of Judgment is the appearance of an individual described in hadiths of a certainty exceeding the degree of tawatur. He is the last of the imams. In the same way that there will be no prophets after the Prophet (saas), so there will be no imam after him. This imam is descended from the sons of Fatima.

Many scholars of the hadiths have agreed that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will be descended from the Prophet (saas), and it is unseemly to turn one's back on such a mutawatir subject. According to the belief of the people of truth, Hazrat Mahdi (as) is independent of Jesus the Messiah. Hazrat Mahdi (as) will appear before the Messiah. This matter has become so widespread among scholars of the Sunnah as to be regarded as one of their beliefs. (Shamsuddin Muhammad ibn Ahmad Safarani, Lawami' al-Anwar al-Bahiyya,," Vol. 2, pp. 74, 76,86)


… There are so many hadiths concerning Hazrat Mahdi (as) that they have reached tawatur status and it is inappropriate to reject these… Were I not afraid it would be long, I would collect all the hadiths I know here. (Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Jafar Idrisi al-Katani, "Nadhem al- Mutanathir Fi al-Hadith al-Mutawatir," pp. 145 and 146)


… Belief in the appearance of Hazrat Mahdi (as) is obligatory, belief in this is essential to affirm the decree of the Prophet (saas). Indeed, this matter has been recorded and proven in the books of Alh al-Sunnah. (Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Ghumari, Ibraz al-Wahm al-Maknun, pp. 3, 4)


We advise Muslims to trust in reliable hadiths and fully believe that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will appear in the End Times. Because those who say the opposite in fact have no religious knowledge nor any belief in the hadiths. (Hasanayn Muhammad al-Makhluf al-Misri, "al-Syahid al-Basher Yatahadda al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar," Introduction to the book)


Hadiths relating the appearance of Hazrat Mahdi (as) have been reported from various narrators. These hadiths emphasize that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will be from the line of the Prophet (saas), will rule for seven years and fill the world with justice, that the Messiah will appear and help him eliminate the tribulation (fitnah) of the antichrist, and that as Hazrat Mahdi (as) leads the prayer (salat) the Prophet Jesus (as) will perform it behind him." (Abu Abdullah al-Qurtubi, at-Tadhkirah, p. 710)


… And believing that Jesus son of Maryam will descend from the sky, will eliminate the tribulation (fitnah) of the antichrist, and will perform the prayer behind Kaim, of the sons of Muhammad(Qasim Muhalhil, al-Burhan, Vol. I, p. 426)


Researchers have shown no disagreement that in the End Times there will be a successor descended from the Prophet (saas). It is unanimously agreed by all that this leader will be none other than he who is known as the Mahdi (as). Accordingly, we believe in the successor [spiritual leader] with these features revealed as coming in the future and intend to be among his supporters when he manifests himself. We beseech Allah to assist us in this intent." (Prof. Said Hawwa, al-Aqaid al-Islamiya," Vol. 2, pp. 1021-1026)


… There is no doubt that these hadiths are mutawatir, provisions of the decree of the Prophet (saas). Because there can be no questioning this subject and individual opinions are invalid… Accordingly, since the accounts regarding the antichrist and the Messiah are mutawatir, so those regarding Hazrat Mahdi (as) are mutawatir. (Al-Muhib ibn Salih al-Buraim, "Iqdud Durar fi Akhbar al-Muntadhar," pp. 14 and 15)


The hadiths regarding Hazrat Mahdi (as) have passed the measure of being tawatur, and there is no significance in denying them. (Mashariq' al-Anwar, Vol. 2, p. 115)


The hadiths about Hazrat Mahdi (as) from the sons of Fatima are more than tawatur. They are to be found in the books "Sunan" and "Musnad" and "Mu'jam." (Qanuji, "al-Iza'a …," p. 94)


All the hadiths related by our Prophet (saas) about Hazrat Mahdi (as) stating that someone with matching name and personal traits will appear in the End Times and will fill the world with justice, are reliable. (Ibn Taymiyyah, Minhaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah, Vol. IV, p. 291)


In accounts relating that hadiths concerning Hazrat Mahdi (as), the antichrist and the Messiah have attained the degree of tawatur, there are no points giving rise to any doubt on the part of people with a knowledge of the hadiths. Some commentators have doubts about some hadiths on this subject, despite admitting that belief in the portents of the Judgment Day is obligatory. But this indicates that they do not possess deep knowledge of the science of the hadiths, and nothing else. (Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari, Nazrah `Aabirah fee Mazaa`im Man Yunkiru Nuzool `Isa Qabla al-Akhirah , p. 49)


In his work (Manaqib ash-Shafi) Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Hasnawi says: on the subject of the Mahdi, the hadiths narrated by our Prophet (saas) have tawatur status … It is stated that he will be descended from the Prophet… (Al-Barzanji, Al-Isha'ah li-ashrat al-sa'ah)


Many Islamic scholars have emphasized the obligation to believe mutawatir hadiths and the importance in the faith of mutawatir reports. Below are cited the views of various Islamic scholars on this subject:


"Tawatur is not one of the subjects of the isnad (chain of transmission accompanying each hadith). Because the isnad reveals whether or not a hadith is true by examining the identity and qualities of the narrator. Yet the narrators of a mutawatir report are not to be questioned, and belief in a mutawatir hadith is obligatory, without questioning it." (Dr. Subhi Salih, Ulum al-hadith pp. 151 and 152)


"Know that a hadith narrated by a number of people whose truth is proven is 'mutawatir'. In other words, there is no possibility of these people cooperating to lie in all classes of narration… These hadiths must be adhered to without entering into debate concerning the narrators. (Muhammad Jamal Al-Din al-Qasimi al-Dimashqi, "Qawaid al-Tahdith, min Funun Mushthalah al-Hadith," p. 151)


"Conditions such as justice or truth sought in the narrators of Reliable or Fair hadiths are not sought in the narrators of "mutawatir" hadiths. Because the number of narrators of these hadiths is so great that it is not rationally possible for them to have come together to fabricate them. For that reason, hadith scholars do not take mutawatir hadiths as a subject for inquiry. In their view, the only subject for investigation is the truth or validity of a hadith. Yet there is no such need in the case of mutawatir hadiths… These narrators consist of so many people as to obtain absolute certainty. This is a natural and manifest phenomenon." ( Dr. Nur ad-Din Itr,, Manhaj al-Naqd fi Ulum al-Hadith, p. 405)


"A report the narrators of which cannot normally have cooperated in falsehood in the beginning, middle or end of which, is 'mutawatir.'… Hadith scholars do not insist that the narrators of mutawatir hadiths have integrity, or even be Muslim. In the same way that they need not be adult, have integrity or be Muslims, so there is no need for them to be living. It is lawful for them to be non-believers, impious or not to have reached adulthood. Neither is there any stipulation that they bear a specific title." (Katani, Nadhem al-Mutanathir Fi al-Hadith al-Mutwatir, pp. 5,6,9)


"There is no need for the narrator of mutawatir hadiths to have integrity or even be a Muslim. Because the criterion for the acceptability of mutawatir status is the large number of narrators. Indeed, if the population of a city report that an event took place, absolutely certain knowledge can be obtained from their words." (Dr. Abu's-Sadat Muhammad ibn Muhammad Abu Shahba, "al-Wasit fi Ulum wa Mustalah Al-Hadith, p. 190)


"There are two types of report: Mutawatir and Ahad … A mutawatir report is one transmitted from one group that cannot have combined in a lie to another group like itself, and the two sides (the first stratum and last stratum) and those in the middle (between the two) are equal. This crowd report something not imagined but perceived with the senses, and absolute certainty is attained through that report. The view on which the majority of investigators are agreed is that tawatur status cannot be restricted by a specific number." (Al-Jazairi, Tawjih an-Nazar, p. 33)


We have seen from the explanations given by Ahl al-Sunnah scholars we have been looking at that there are mutawatir hadiths regarding a holy individual known as Hazrat Mahdi (as) and descended from our Prophet (saas) who will appear in the End Times. We have also seen that it is obligatory to believe in these accounts, which cannot rationally or logically be groundless or lies.

That being the case, some Islamic scholars have stated that, because of their absolutely certain status, denying mutawatir hadiths is equivalent to denying the Prophet (saas) and have unequivocally ruled that this is blasphemy. Some accounts by such scholars read as follows:


Know that: As unanimously stated, whoever, by word or deed, denies [mutawatir hadiths] is a blasphemer, unless he knows proof, and leaves the sphere of Islam; they will be grouped with Jews, Christians and groups chosen by Allah. (Abdul al-Ghani al-Haq, "Hujjiyat al- Sunnah, p. 270, from The Key to Paradise)


"…Because as a requirement of the decision taken by scholars, after it has been proved that the hadiths transmitted from our Prophet (saas) are mutawatir, he who denies them is a blasphemer unless he can show an acceptable justification of his denial. (Abu al-Fadl Abd-Allah ibn Muhammad al-Idrisi, "The Awaited Mahdi," pp. 94, 95)


In hadiths reported by reliable narrators the Prophet (saas) has imparted the glad tidings that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will appear in the End Times, as well as his titles and the signs of his appearance… It is stated by the Prophet (saas) that whoever denies the promised Mahdi (as) or regards him as untrue is a blasphemer. (Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Al-Burhan fi Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir az-Zaman, Vol. 2, pp. 865-876)

The following two hadiths are of such a nature as to confirm the rule imposed by these scholars:

"He who denies the emergence of Hazrat Mahdi (as) denies the revelation to Muhammad…"

"…he who denies Hazrat Mahdi (as) is without doubt a blasphemer."

The Ahl-Al Sunnah sources that transmitted these hadiths are, in order:

1- Abu Baqir Ahmad ibn Muhammad Askafi (dec. H. 260), Fawaid al-Akhbar.
2- Abu Bakr ibn Haythami (dec. H. 279), Jam al-Ahadith al-Warida fi al-Mahdi.
3- Abu al Bakr Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Kalabazi Bukhari (dec. 380), Ma'ani al-Akhbar.
4- Abu Qasim Abdurrahman al-Suhayli (dec. 581), Ravd al-Anf, Sharh al-Sira, Vol. 2, p. 431. (narrated by Malik ibn Anas from Muhammad ibn Munkadir from Jabir).
5- Yusuf ibn Yahya Maqdisi al-Shafi (dec. 685), Iqd al-Durar fi Akhbar al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar, p. 157, al-Askafi, Fawaid al-Akhbar and Sharah al-Sirah from Abu al-Qasim al-Suhayli.
6- Sheikh Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Hamwini (dec. 730), Fara'id al-Simtayn, Vol. 2, p. 337, No. 585, Maani al-Akhbar from Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Ibrahim.
7- Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (dec. 852), Lisan al-Mizan, Vol. 4, p. 147, Egyptian edition; p. 130, Haydarabad edition, Maan al-Akhbar.
8- As-Suyuti (dec. 911), al-Arf al-Wardi fi Akhbar al-Mahdi, p. 161, from Fawaid al-Akhbar.
9-  Ibn Hajar al-Makki ash-Shafi (dec. 974), Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi `Alamat al-Mahdi al-Muntazar, p. 56, copy in a manuscript in the Zahiriye Library in Damascus and in the Ayatullah Marashi Library in Qum, (transmitted from Fawaid al-Akhbar and Sharh as-Sira).
10- Ibn Hajar al-Makki, al-Fatawa al-Hadith, p. 37.
11- al-Muttaqi al-Hindi (dec. 975), Al-Burhan fi Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir az-Zaman.
12- Sheikh Muhammad ibn Ahmad Saffarini al-Hanbali (dec. 1188), Lawami' al-Anwar al-Bahiyya, Vol. 2, chapter titled «al-Faidah al-Hamisa» concerning the Mahdi; from Hafiz Askafi. (The reliability of the narrator Jabir ibn Abdullah is praised.)
13- Sulayman al- Qunduzi (dec. 1294), Yanabi' al-Mawadda, Beginning of 78th chapter, transmitted from Jabir ibn Abdullah al-Ansari.
14- Sayyid Muhammad Sıddiq Qanuji al-Bukhari (dec. 1307), al-Iza'a Li Ma Qâne wa Mâ Yaqun al-Bayna Yaday -as-Sa'eh, p. 137, from Jam al-Ahadith al-Warida fi al-Mahdi from Ibn Haythami and Fawaid al-Akhbar from Askafi.
15- Abu al-Fadl Abd Allah ibn Muhammad Siddiq (dec. 1308), Al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar, p. 94 and from Fawaid al-Akhbar.


Some Examples of Fatwas Issued on the Subject of Hazrat Mahdi (as)

As we have seen above, the hadiths regarding Hazrat Mahdi (as) possess a tawatur level of trustworthiness, leaving no room for doubt and revealing the obligation for belief on the matter. One fatwa on the subject issued by the «Rabitat al-Alam al-Islami« (Committee of the Islamic World) headed by Sheikh Muntasir al-Katani and signed by Sheikh Muhammad al-Qazzaz [dated 23 Shawwal 1396 (17.10.1976)] of the Islamic Law Board which is made up of eminent religious scholars reads:

"... Many companions have narrated hadiths from the Prophet (saas) regarding the Mahdi. I know some 20, such as Uthman ibn Affan, Ali ibn Abu Talib and Ummu Salama, and many other accounts have been narrated from them. In addition, there are decrees from companions with the force of the word of the Prophet (saas). There can be no interpretation and no different opinion on this subject. Such hadiths on this subject have been recorded in Sunan Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Ibn Asakir's Tarikh Dimashqi [History of Damascus] and other books.

Special books have also been written on the subject of the Mahdi (as): "Akhbar al-Mahdi," "The Book of Abu Nuaim," "al-Wahm al-Maknun" and others … Previous and contemporary eminent figures have agreed that hadiths regarding Hazrat Mahdi (as) enjoy tawatur status: as stated in al-Sakhawi's "Fath al-Mugeeth," Ibni Tamiyya's "Fatawa" and Abu al-Abbas al-Maghrib's "al-Wahm al-Maknun"…

Commentators and experts on the hadiths are agreed that hadiths about Hazrat Mahdi (as) enjoy tawatur status. In conclusion, belief that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will appear is obligatory. It is included among the beliefs of the community and people of the Sunnah. No other Muslim than those ignorant of the Sunnah and heretics can deny this belief." (Muhammad Mahdi al-Khorasan, "Introduction to al-Bayan fi Akhbar - Sahibuzzaman" pp. 76-79)

In the same way, Fatwa No. 2844 on Hazrat Mahdi (as) by scholars including Sheikh Abd al-Aziz ibn Baaz, Sheikh Abd ar-Razzaq Afishi, Sheikh Abdullah ibn Saud and Sheikh Abd Allah ibn Ghadyan from the "The Permanent Committee of Academic Research and Fatwa," which speaks on Islamic matters on a global scale, reads:

"The accounts proving that Hazrat Mahdi (as) will appear are many, and many leading hadith scholars have reported these in documents. Authorities such as Abu al-Hasan Al-Aburi, Allama Safarani and Allame ash-Shawkani have said that these hadiths are mutawatir according to the meaning. It is inappropriate to regard anyone else than the person the signs of whom have been set out in the decrees of the Prophet  (saas) as the Mahdi (as)."


2010-08-16 12:14:45

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