Baffled television audiences in the west scramble to come to terms with the notion of Jihad. It is hard to come to grip with the notion of British born Muslims dropping bombs in the tube. grimacing shopkeepers, They look with disbelief at shopkeepers running in the streets of Karachi in support of fundamentalist terrorists. With a stubbornness that history made sadly predictable, Hate is keen to sow its seeds and slowly hate crimes in countries affected by terrorism are on the rise. Brain washed and emotionally manipulated, terrorists are trying to pick up again the coveted mantle of self-appointed doomsday makers. Since Attila and Gengis Khan many have lived such fantasies but, in the context of Islam, where do they come from?
It may be worth to review Islam’s expectations from history. To make sure, Islam is not a monolithic religion and counts about 72 main currents, branches or sects. Before breeding Bin Laden’s crazy claims, the rigid Sunni Wahabites promoted expansionist warfare and misogynic repression. Like the roman pope and his crusaders, the caliph killed in the name of God. But wahabism does not give the measure of Islam. According to many eminent Muslim scholars, it represents only a dogmatic and limited understanding of the Koran. Its main achievement may have been the manipulation of religion for the purpose of political supremacy. The mystical depth of Islam is more vested in the Sufis and its historical consciousness in the lineage of the Imams.
The Mahdi (the name of the last of the twelve Imams, the first being Ali; son in law of Muhammed,) according to Islam, and in particular its Shiite branch, is the savior to come at the time of the Last Judgement to save the world. His function is similar to those attributed to the Kalki of the Hindus, the Maitreya of the Buddhists or the Christ King of the Christians. The return of the Mahdi constitutes the most frequent prediction of the Imams. Al-Kultani and al-Nu’mani consecrated an entire chapter and Ibn Babunye passed down in thirteen chapters the predictions of the Prophet, Fatima and of the eleven Imams on the subject of the Twelfth Imam.
The universal precursory Sign of the return of Mahdi, “He who Guides”, consists of the general invasion of the earth by Evil, the victory of the forces of Evil over those of Good. This dire condition demands the manifestation of an ultimate and final Savior. Without such a manifestation, the entirety of humanity would be engulfed by darkness.
The following are some enlightening quotes, courtesy Majid Golpur, a scholar of Islam.
We find extracts from the eulogies of Ali Abi Talib describing various components of the “Sign”- announcing the return of Mahdi : The “Sign” consists of the following traits: the people will neglect prayer, squander the divinity which is conferred on them, legalize untruths, practice usury, accept bribes, construct huge edifices, sell religion to win this lower-world, employ idiots, consult with women, break family ties, obey passion and consider insignificant the letting of blood. Magnanimity will be considered as weakness and injustice as glory, princes will be debauched and ministers will be oppressors, intellectuals will be traitors and the readers of the Koran vicious. False witness will be brought openly and immorality proclaimed in loud voices. A word of promise will be slander, sin and exaggeration.
“The sacred Books will be ornate, the mosques disguised, the minarets extended. Criminals will be praised, the lines of combat narrowed, hearts in disaccord and pacts broken. Women, greedy for the riches of this lower world, will involve themselves in the business of their husbands, the vicious voices of man will be loud and will be listened to. The most ignoble of the people will become leaders, the debauched will be believed for fear of the Evil they will cause, the liar will be considered as truthful and the traitor as trustworthy…
They will resort to singers and musical instruments…and women will horse ride, they will resemble men and the men will resemble women. The people will prefer the activities of this lower-world to those of the Higher-World and wilt cover up with lambskin the hearts of wolves.” Kamal, bab 47, n° 1,II/525-28
The Qa’im (Mahdi) comes to re-establish the lost sense of sanctity. Firstly he will re-establish Islam to it’s original purity and integrity. al-Nu ‘mani, op cit pages 333-59″ The Qa ‘im)
The obscure expectation for the return of the Madhi dominates totally the religious conscience of Imamism during the period of the disappearance of Ali until the return of the awaited Saviour. But, here and there, throughout the prophetic texts, there are hints of an esoteric knowledge.At the moment of birth a light pierced the top of the child’s head (a possible reference to the opening of the seventh chakra) and reached into the depths of the sky. This child is the Mahdi, he who will fill the earth with equality and justice just as it is now filled with oppression and injustice.*
(* “Guide divine” – Amir Moizzi – Paris – 1/E.P.H.E. – Paris en Sorbonneal-Kulayni, UsGl K K. al-Hujjan, Bab MS JS a fi 1-ithna’ ashar, 11/468-485; al-Nu’Mani, K al-Ghayba,bablo, pages 201-281Ibn-Babflyne, Kamal al-Din, Bab-5 24 – 38, pages 256 -385, see also Id, Hal, Bab 12; Nahj al-Balagha,pages 295,424-25,458,1158,1180 and 1222)
The Imam is described also as energy giving. The Imam says: “As to the way of benefiting from my presence (literally – “to benefit of me”) during my disappearance, it is similar to the profit we gain from the sun while it is hidden from sight by the clouds.”bab 45, n° 4, 11/485. Ibn- Babunye
An Iranian scholar, Majid Golpur, who is also familiar with sahaja yoga has thoroughly researched the subject. According to him, some language seems to refer to new cognitive powers that may be associated with the rise of the Kundalini and collective consciousness. All the faithful joining the ranks of Mahdi will be gifted with special miraculous powers, in particular those of super sensitive communication with the Imam. At the time of the Advent of our Qa’im, “says Ja’far,” God, may He be exalted and glorified, will develop the hearing and sight of our faithful in such a manner that, without there being a messenger between the Qa’im and themselves. He will speak with them, and they will hear and can see him without him having left the place where he is.” Al-Kulyni, al-Rawda, 11149
More specifically, we can recognize a mention of the vibratory consciousness of the chakras which correspond to specific location in the hands. “For decisions which they have difficulty in taking, they will receive instructions and direction from the Imam who will write on the palms of their hands, they need only look and then execute the orders.”al-Nu ‘mdni, op. cit, bob 214
The following language could possibly indicate succession of Imams or the collectivity of realized souls, through the reference to the wind. But, without the subtler spiritual experience, it can also easily feed the delusion of self appointed elect fanatics. “God speaks : “O Muhammad. These are My friends, My pure elect, and My proof after you for mankind. They are your legatees and your priests and the best of My creatures after you. By My Glory and My Majesty I will manifest through them My religion and I will raise through them My Word; by the last of them (Mahdi) I will make the earth pure of My enemies. I will establish him from the sunrise to the sunset throughout the entire earth; I will confer to his power the wind and will lower for him the stubborn clouds. I will help him with My Army and aid him with My Angels until he raises My Name and the creatures acknowledge My uniqueness, and then I will prolong his reign and I will ensure the succession of My Friends over the time until the Day of Resurrection.”Ibn Babunye, ‘Ilal, bab 7, pages 6-7, Kamal, bab 23, n°4,I/256, ‘Uyan, I/bob 26, n° 22, page 263
In this way the awaited Imam (al-Muntazar) Mad-hdi, Qa’im, will prepare the earth for the Last Judgement and the Resurrection. The battle of Qa’im will mark the ultimate victory of the “believers” against their “enemies” and the universal and final establishment of the “religion” of the Imams. The community of the faithful is a familiar theme of all eschatologies.
Imam Ja’far recounting a vision he had about the coming of Mahdi says that at one moment : “9000 angels descend from the sky and then 313 more angels (the first), those who accompanied Noah in the Ark, and ‘Abraham when he was thrown into the fire, and Moses when the seas of the ocean were parted for him, and with Jesus when he was lifted up by God to be with Him”.
The number of Companions of Qa’im-Mahdi (ashab al-Qa’im), “the men of sincerity” (ahl al-ikhlas), “the sincere devotees” (al-khullas) is, as the number of fighters de Badr, 313. Each one of these 313 companions carries a sword on which are written “a thousand words each one giving access to a thousand more”. At the moment of the Advent, these 313 men will be dispersed in different parts of the world.The fifth Imam says : good works (al-kayrat) represents the faithful love towards the Imam (al-walaya); “where ever you may be God will gather you all together”. He describes the Companions of Qa’im, the 313 who will gather together within one hour just as the clouds rush together in Autumn. Al-Kulayni, al-Rawda, II/145
All or some of them (according to the different traditions) will be sent by the Imam to different places on the earth where they will dominate everything, even the birds and wild animals will obey them.Ibn Babuye, op. cit, bab58, n° 25,11/673
…some amongst them will walk upon the clouds. Their names as well as the names of their fathers, their qualities (hilya) and their ancestry (nasab) are known to us. al-Nu’mani, op. cit, bob 20, page 445sq; Ibn Babuyne, op. cit, bab 58, n° 24,11/672.
It is interesting to note that these texts imply a profound criticism of Islam as some parts of the Arab world seem to know it. The returned Mahdi will do as did the Prophet, destroying that which was before, just as the Prophet destroyed the rituals of the period of ignorance, and he will establish once again Islam. Our Qa’im will repair the Mosque and will reconstruct his Mecca. The Qa”im will bring a new Order, a new Book, a new Legislation and a new Tradition. (Yaqumu I-qa im bi-amrin jadid wa Qada’im jadid wa sunnatus jadiida.) al-Numani – bab 13 page 336, bab 14, pages 36 ad 378
Of course the primary ambiguity of these prophecies is that they may refer to more spiritual and ethical realities or be understood as a militant call for a violent upheaval. But there are texts indicating that these prophecies do not invite the fight of Islam against other religions but rather, the fight of all religions for their inner renewal. Mahdi will equally reestablish the other religions, also abandoned and disfigured, in their original Truth and Purity. Ibn-Babuyne, bab 129, 1/161; Ibn-Ayyash, Mugtad-Ab 18159
Indeed the Mahdi will extract the Torah and the other Divine Books from their caverns and will judge amongst the faithful of the Torah according to the Torah, amongst the faithful of the Evangiles according to the Evangiles, amongst the faithfuls of al-Zabur (the book of David) according to the al-Zabur and amongst the faithfuls of the Koran according to the Koran. It is the universal initiation by the Imam for all men into the secrets of existence and of their own religions, and this is without doubt the meaning which must be understood by the term “Mahdi” given by the fifth Imam al-Bagir : “Mahdi (“the Guide”) is named as such because it is he who will guide (Yahdi) us in the secret teachings”. al~Nu ‘mani op, cit, page 342
If so, the prediction of the Mahdi does not announce the victory of zealot warriors who will wipe out non-believers understood to be other folks, races or religions. Rather the prophecies talk of the power of love, not the might of hate. They would than refer to the fight against ignorance and stupidity, no doubt the most formidable of all battles. But if Allah is indeed the Merciful and the Compassionate, such is the most likely meaning of the predictions of the Imams. The real jihad is an internal fight for our own purification, so that our full spiritual potential might finally manifest.