Counter-traditions regarding Mahdi in some Sunni books

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By: Ayatullah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Milani
There are traditions in some Sunni books that run counter to previous traditions successively reported from the Holy Prophet (S). Relying on such traditions and claiming that they are opposed to previous traditions, some try to undermine the authority of the previous successively reported traditions.
We will devote this part of our book to assessing such traditions in order to further enrich our discussion and remove the doubts about the doctrine of Mahdawiyyat (the belief in ultimate Savior), which is unanimously accepted by all Muslims. Let’s now deal with these traditions.

1. Mahdi is the same as Jesus
In a tradition narrated by Sunnis, it is said that Mahdi is the same as Jesus Christ. This tradition is reported only by Ibn Maja. According to him, Yunus bin Abdulali narrates from Muhammad bin Idris Shafi’ai from Ibn Khalid Janadi from Aban bin Salih from Hasan from Anas bin Malik who quotes the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: “The more the world gets advanced the more will be the problems. The situation will turn adverse and men will become more miserly. Resurrection will happen at a time people are used to doing bad things and Mahdi is the same as Jesus Christ.”1

Unauthentic tradition and unreliable narrators
In our point of view, the traditions reported from Prophet’s progeny and other traditions successively reported by Sunni narrators prove that this tradition is false. That is the reason why Hakim Nayshaburi, Bayhaqi and others have dealt with the said tradition as weak.2

1. Muhammad bin Khalid Janadi
Moreover Sunni scholars have also criticized the narrators of the afore-mentioned tradition. According to them, Muhammad bin Khalid Janadi, is the only person who has narrated this tradition. That is why they have touched this tradition while dealing his biography. Mazzi says that Muhammad bin Khalid Janadi and San’ani Mu’azzin have narrated from Aban bin Salih from Hasan from Anas who has said that Mahdi is the same as Jesus Christ…
This tradition is recorded by Ibn Maja… According to Abu Bakr bin Ziyad this tradition is queer. According to him, Hafiz Abu Bakr Bayhaqi says that this tradition is reported only by Muhammad bin Khalid Janadi. On the view of Abu Abdullah Hafiz Muhammad bin Khalid, Janadi is unknown and scholars differ on Muhammad bin Khalid Janadi who narrates this tradition from the Messenger of Allah (S).3
Commenting on this tradition, Zahabi says Shaf’ai narrates traditions from Muhammad bin Khalid Janadi who narrates traditions from Aban bin Salih. Based on what Azdi says his traditions are not acceptable. According to Abu Abdullah Hakim Nayshaburi he is unknown whereas on the view of Zahabi the tradition reported by Muhammad bin Khalid Janadi, according to which Mahdi is the same as Jesus Christ, is unknown and rejected.4
According to Ibn Hajar, Muhammad bin Khalid Janadi Mu’azzin is unaknown included among the seventh class of reporters. He is among the narrators relied on by Ibn Maja Qazvini.5

2. Aban bin Salih
Though Sunni scholars are of the view that all their scholars hold that Aban bin Salih is reliable and trustworthy his is considered as weak by Ibn Abdulbarr and Hafiz bin Hazm.6
Based on what Zahabi says according to Ibn Salih in his Amali, Aban bin Salih has reported no tradition from Hasan.

3. Hasan Basri
He is the same as the popular Hasan Basri, who is considered by some as one of the enemies of Ali (a.s). That is why some traditions (regarded as successively reported by some), reported from Prophet’s progeny rebuke him.7
Though Sunnis have narrated from him some traditions in their six hadith collections considering him among eight pious people, they have nevertheless stress that many traditions he reported are mursal (broken) and that he used to do tadlish8.9

4. Yunus bin Abduala
Though Sunni scholars haveconsidered him as reliable he is accused of telling lies while reporting the above-mentioned tradition.
Commenting on him, Hafiz Mazzi says that Hafiz Abu al-Qasim in Tarikh Madina Demishq, using his own chain of transmitters, narrates from Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Rashdin from Abu al-Hasan Ali bin Ubaidullah Wasiti who says: I saw Muhmmad bin Idris Shafi’ai in a dream. He told me that Yunus in Janadi’s tradition – a tradition reported by Hasan from Anas from the Holy Prophet (S) concerning Imam Mahdi – has attributed a false tradition to me.
According to Shafi’ai this tradition is not among his traditions and he has not narrated it. Yunus has wrongly attributed it to him.10
Moreover, on Zahabi’s point of view, this tradition suffers from another weakness as well which is …11

Jesus Christ in presence of Imam Mahdi
Contrary to this fabricated tradition, there are many authentic traditions that say that when Imam Mahdi (a.s) appears Jesus Christ descends from heaven and follows him in prayer. Let’s now study some of these traditions.
Bukhar and Muslim, using their own chains of transmitters, quote the Holy Prophet (S) as saying:

کیف انتم اذا نزل ابن مریم فیکم و امامکم منکم؟
How do you feel when Jesus Christ lands among you and your imam is from among you?12
Using his how chain of reporters, Ahmad bin Hanbal Shaybani also narrates a tradition that contains the name of ‘Dajjal’. He quotes the Holy Prophet (S) as saying:
فاذا هم بعیسی بن مریم فتقام الصلاه فیقال له: تقدم یا روح الله! فیقول: لیتقدم امامکم فیصل بکم
Then they see Jesus Christ when it is the time of offering prayer. Jesus is told to lead the prayer but he refuses saying that their [Muslims’] Imam has to lead the prayer.13
According to Manawi, Christ (a.s) descends in the morning at a white minaret in eastern Damascus. He finds Imam Mahdi (a.s) making preparation for offering prayer. By now Imam senses that he is present over there. He gets back in order to allow Jesus to lead prayer, but Jesus asks him to lead prayer and he himself offers his prayer after him. This brings Muslim community a great deal of pride and dignity.14
Commenting on Imam Mahdi (a.s) Abu al-Hasan Abri says: “Many narrators have narrated traditions that are successively reported from the Holy Prophet (S) regarding Imam Mahdi (a.s). According to these traditions, Mahdi is a member of Prophet’s progeny. He rules for seven years and establishes justice and equity in the world. It is at this time that Jesus Christ appears. He joins Mahdi at Lad gate in Palestine in order to help him kill Dajjal. Mahdi is now a prayer leader of Muslim community and Jesus Christ offers his prayer after him.”15
Answering those who reject this issue, Jalal al-Din Suyuti says: “Their words are very strange and surprising. This is because many authentic prophetic traditions state that Jesus (a.s) offers his prayer after Mahdi (a.s). The Messenger of Allah is truthful and his truthfulness is accepted by all. Thus whatever he foresaid will come true.16

Taftazani’s opinion rejected
Based on what we quoted from different scholars, it becomes clear that what Sa’ad al-Din Taftazani says is wrong and unacceptable. Taftazani says that it is not correct and reliable to say that Jesus offers his prayer after Mahdi or vice versa.17

2. Mahdi is from the offspring of Hasan
Another fabricated tradition states that Mahdi (a.s) is from the offspring of Imam Hasan (a.s.). Abu Ishaq, author of al-Mishkat, maintains: One day looking at his son, Hasan, Ali (a.s) said that he according to a saying of the Holy Prophet will be a leader and a man will come from his offspring who will be prophet’s namesake and though his ethics will resemble prophet’s his complexion will be different from that of him… He then relates that he will establish justice and equity in the world.
Abu Dawood has mentioned this tradition though he has not touched the said story.18
Commenting on this tradition, in his Sharh Mishkat al-Masabih, Qari says: This tradition clearly confirms our point of view maintaining that Mahdi is from the offspring of Hasan. To reconcile between this tradition and other traditions it has to be said that Mahdi is related to Imam Husayn only via his mother. Thus Shias’ opinion that Mahdi, Muhammad bin Hasan Askari is the awaited Imam, for according to all Mahdi is from the descendants of Husayn, is not credible.
If it is said that Ali might have spoken about someone other than Mahdi (a.s), in reply, it has to be said that the phrase ‘he will establish justice and equity in the world’ falsifies this claim, for among Husayni and Hasani sayyids, it is only the promised Mahdi who is known for establishing justice and equity in the world.19

An assessment of this opinion
In Sunnis’ six hadith collections, there is no tradition other than the tradition mentioned, that says that Mahdi is from the descendants of Hasan. The said tradition has appeared only in Sunan Abi Dawood.
According to Ibn Athir, Abu Dawood Ishaq ‘Amr bin Abdullah Subai’ai says: Ali (a.s) looked at his son, Hasan and said … He then said that it is he who will establish justice and equity in the world. Abu Sawood has mentioned this tradition though not mentioning the said story.20

Sheikh Mansur’s opinion
He says: It is said that one day Ali (a.s) looking at his son Hasan (a.s) said: This son of mine is as the Holy Prophet (S) pointed out, a master and leader and a man will appear from his descendants, who is your Prophet’s namesake. Though his ethics will resemble prophet’s his complexion will be different from that of him.
In another tradition Imam Ali (a.s) quotes the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: A man will rise from Transoxiana…
These two traditions are narrated by Abu Dawood.21

An evaluation of the chain of this tradition
In our point of view, this tradition is the only reason appealed to by those who regard Mahdi as a descendent of Imam Hasan (a.s). Thus it is inevitable to give a look at the chain and text of this tradition and evaluate them.
As to the chain of this tradition, it has to be said that in his Sunan, Abu Dawood mentions:

حدثت عن هارون بن مغیره قال: حدثنا عمرو بن ابی قیس عن شعیب بن خالد عن ابی اسحاق قال: قال: علی (ع) … ثم ذکر قصه یملاء الارض عدلا
.
I am told that Harun bin Mughayra narrated from ‘Amr bin Abi Qays from Shu’ayb bin Khalid from Abu Ishaq who said: Ali (a.s) said … Then he mentioned that he will establish justice and equity in the world. 22
To know that this tradition is weak it is enough to give a look at the starting and finishing points of the chain of this tradition. Abu Dawood says that he received a tradition from Harun. Now the question is: Who has narrated this tradition to Abu Dawood? In the end of the chain of this tradition we see the name Abu Ishaq Sabi’ai who has just once met Ali (a.s) without talking to him. Thus there is no doubt that Ibn Ishaq has heard this tradition from someone else, though he has not mentioned his name while mentioning the tradition.
Moreover, it is narrated from Hafiz Manzari in Hashiya Jami’a al-Usul, that this tradition is munqati’a23.

An evaluation of the text of this tradition
As to the text of this tradition, it has to be said that its starting and finishing parts are reported very differently, to the extent that its starting part contains sometimes the name of Hasan and sometimes the name of Husayn.
Qunduzi Hanafi says that Ali (a.s) has reportedly looking at his son, Hasan, said: This son of mine is a master and a leader… Then he mentioned that he will establish justice and equity in the world. Abu Dawood has narrated this tradition but he has not mentioned the story in full.24
Quoting from Abu Dawood,Jami’a al-Usul and al-Mishkat have mentioned the very same tradition. The only difference we observe here is that the name of Hasan is replaced by Husayn.
Other traditions available in other sources concerning this issue face the same problem. For example, in his ‘Aqd al-Durar fi Akhbar al-Muntazar, Sullami Shafi’ai narrates Abu Ishaq’s tradition from A’amash from Abu Wael, but versions of this book are different from each other. According to the original work as well as its copies Ali (a.s) looks at Husayn whereas according to some other versions of this book Ali looks at Hasan.
Quoting from Sifat al-Mahdi authored by Hafiz Abu Na’eem Isfahani, Sullami Shafi narrates Huzayfa’s tradition which is taken from Zakhaer al-U’qba. The original work written by Sullami Shafi’ai as well as its copy, however contain that Ali (a.s) pated Husayn’s shoulder.
Other versions however contain the name of Hasan.25
Is this difference the result of resemblance that exists between the words ‘Hasan’ and ‘Husayn’ or is it the work of some self-interested people who purposely distorted it so as to deprive people from the realities explained by Prophet’s progeny who were more than anyone else knowledgeable and were aware of Prophet’s conduct?
Though the first possibility is not however improbable, the second possibility seems to be more correct, for there is a great deal of evidence in the conduct of Prophet’s progeny that supports it.
In this particular case, there is solid evidence that shows some Sunni scholars tried their best to conceal this fact that Mahdi is from the offspring of Imam Husayn (a.s). At least, they did not want to relate it correctly. As to the real motive of these scholars, it is Allah alone who knows better. For instance, Abu al-Husayn Ahmad bin Ja’afar bin Munadi and Abu Abdullah bin Hammad both of whom are among Sunni leaders, narrate from Qatada who says: I told Sa’aeed bin Mussayyib as to whether Mahdi was right. He answered in the affirmative. “From which tribe?”, said I. “From Quraish”, he said. “From which family?” I asked. “From Bani Hashim”, he replied. “From which one of Bani Hashim?” I said. “From the descendants of Abd al-Mutallib”, he replied. “From which descendants of Abd al-Mutallib?” I questioned. “From the descendants of Fatima” he answered. “From which descendants of Fatima?” I asked. “Here it is enough”, he answered.
Now it has to be asked as to why he says ‘here it is enough’. Let’s thus now assess the last part of this tradition. As mentioned before, Abu Dawood says: “Then he mentioned that he will establish justice and equity in the world”. The question is: “Who mentioned that he will establish justice and equity in the world?” As pointed out by Ibn Athir, Khatib Tabrizi, author of al-Mishkat and others, it is not Abu Dawood who has mentioned this point (he will establish justice …). What is the matter then?
Author of al-Taj, has however utterly omitted this part of tradition (that he will establish justice and equity in the world). This by itself shows that this part of tradition is not a part of this tradition.
To prove this point of view, it is enough to mention that in his al-Ba’ath wa al-Nushur, Bayhaqi narrates the said tradition from Abu Ishaq. Without mentioning the said point (that he will establish justice and equity in the world), he winds up the tradition with the saying that his ethics resemble that of the Holy Prophet (S), though his complexion is different from that of him.26

An inquiry into the meaning of this tradition
Regarding the content of this tradition, it has to be said that it is not reliable and trustworthy. This is because as we learnt before, the text of this tradition does not have a unified form and structure. Thus it is pointless to pay heed to what Sheikh Ali Qari pointed out, saying that Shia’s opinion is not acceptable.
Similarly his point that Ali might have mentioned the name of Hasan (instead of Husayn) is not acceptable. This is because even if the word ‘Hasan’ is mentioned in this tradition, it is not clear that it is Ali (a.s) who said the last point (he will establish justice and equity in the world).

3. His father is the namesake of Prophet’s father
The third tradition narrated from the Holy Prophet (S) states that his father is the namesake of Prophet’s father.
We will study this tradition under the following: The Holy Prophet (S) said: “He is my namesake”; he did not say: “His father is the namesake of my father”.
Who are the reporters of the tradition: his father is the namesake of my father. Can we rely on them?

Being Prophet’s namesake
In his Musnad, Ahmad narrates from Abdullah bin Mas’ud, from Umar bin Ubaid from ‘Asim bin Abi al-Nujud from Zarrin Habish from Abullah who quotes the Holy Prophet as saying:

لا تنقضی الایام و لا یذهب الدهر حتی یملک رجل من اهل بیتی اسمه یواطئ اسمی
The world will not end unless a man appears, who belongs to my progeny and who is my namesake. 27
He goes no narrating from Yahya bin Sa’eed from Sufyan from ‘Asim from Zar from Abdullah who quotes the Holy Prophet (S) as saying:
لا تذهب الدنیا او قال: لا تنقضی الدنیا حتی یملک العرب رجل من اهل بیتی و یواطیء اسمه اسمی
The world will not end or perish unless a man rules Arabs, a man who belongs to my progeny and who is my namesake. 28
Elsewhere he has mentioned this tradition with the same chain and wording.29 Elsewhere in his Musnad, he relates this tradition with the firstly mentioned wording, from Umar bin Ubaid Tanafisi from ‘Asim from Zar from Abdullah.30
Tirmidhi narrates this tradition from Ubaid bin Asbat bin Muhammad Qarshi Kufi from his father from Sufyan Thawri from Asim bin Bahdala from Zar from Abdullah who quotes the Holy Prophet (S) as saying:
لا تذهب الدنیا حتی یملک العرب رجل من اهل بیتی و یواطیء اسمه اسمی
The world will not come to an end unless a man rules Arabs, a man who belongs to my progeny and who is my namesake. 31
According to Abu Isa there are traditions in this regard narrated from Ali, Abu Sa’eed, Um Salama and Abu Huraira. Thus the said tradition is hasan32 and authentic.33

His name is the same as the name of my father
This tradition (that states that his name is the same as that of the Prophet’s father) is narrated by Abu Dawood in the same way. In one of his narrations, it is stated that his father’s name is the same as that of the Prophet’s father. Here is what Abu Dawood, in his Sunan that is compiled by his son, says: Musaddid narrates from Umar bin Ubaid…
Muhammad bin Ala narrates from Abu Bakr –i.e. Ibn Ayyash- ….
Musaddid narrates from Yahya from Sufya …
Ahmad bin Ibrahim narrates from Ubaidullah bin Musa from Zaeda …
Ahmad bin Ibrahim narrates from Fatar from Zar from Abdullah who quotes the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: لو لم یبق من الدنیا الا یوم If only one day is left for this world … Zaeda adds: لطول الله ذلک الیوم حتی یبعث فیه رجل منی او اهل بیتی یواطیء اسمه اسمی و اسم ابیه اسم ابی Allah will prolong that day until a man is sent from my family or my progeny whose name is the same as mine and whose father’s name is the same as my father’s name.
The narration quoted by Fatar, contains: یملاء الارض قسطا و عدلا کما ملئت ظلما و جورا He will fill in the world with justice and equity just as it was filled in with injustice and cruelty.
The narration quoted by Sufyan contains: لا تذهب – لا تنقضی – الدنیا حتی یملک العرب رجل من اهل بیتی و یواطیء اسمه اسمی. The world will not end or perish unless a man rules Arabs, a man who belongs to my progeny and who is my namesake.
According to Abu Dawood, the text of the tradition reported by Umar and Abu Bakr is the same as that of the tradition reported by Sufyan.34
Thus it is clear that Ahmad, Tirmidhi and Abu Dawood have narrated the narration reported by Abdullah bin Mas’ud in a similar manner. This is something that agrees with what Shias hold.
On the other hand, many Sunni scholars have introduced Mahdi as ‘Muhammad bin Hasan Askari’, implying that his name is the same as that of his ancestor, the Holy Prophet (S).
From among the Sunni scholars, it is only Abu Dawood who has reported the said tradition on the basis of a chain that contains a reporter named ‘Zaeda’. According to Abu Dawood’s narration, the tradition contains the phrase ‘that his father’s name is the same as my father’s name’.
Shia and Sunni scholars have equally criticized this part of Abu Dawood’s narration, putting its chain to question.
Thus it is not necessary to further dwell on this issue, for it is a proven fact that queer traditions have to put aside and replaced by indisputable traditions.
1. Sunan Ibn Maja, vol. 2, p. 1340.
2. Al-Taj al-Taj al-Jami’a Lilusul, vol. 5, p. 341.
3. Tahzib al-Kamal, vol. 25, p. 151.
4. Mizan al-Itidal, vol. 3, p. 535.
5. Taqrib al-Tahzib, vol. 2, p. 157.
6. Ibid, vol. 1, p. 82.
7. Tanqih al-Maqal, vol. 1, p. 269.
8. Technically speaking, tadlis is on a general-categorization of two kinds. a) Talis in Isnad. It means that the narrator narrates a tradition from someone whom he has not seen or from whom he has heard it. Or else, he omits the names of some reporters in order to make his tradition look acceptable or authentic. It is said that tadlish is similar to lie. b) Tadlis in reporter’s attributes. It means that narrators describe a narrator with attributes that are not real.
9. Taqrib al-Tahzib, vol. 1, p. 165.
10. Tahizib al-Kamal, vol. 25, p. 149.
11. Mizan al-Itidal, vol. 3, 535.
12. Sahih Bukhari, vol. 4, p. 143.
13. Musnad Ahmad, vol. 3, p. 367.
14. Fayz al-Qadir, Sharh Jami’a al-Saghir, vol. 6, p. 17.
15. Tahzib al-Kamal, vol. 25, p. 149.
16. Al-Hawi lil Fatawa, vol. 2, p. 167.
17. Sharh al-Maqasid, vol. 5, p. 313.
18. Mishkat al-Mafatih, vol. 3, p. 1503.
19. Mirqat al-Mafatih fi Sharh Mishkat al-Masabih, vol. 5, p. 168.
20. Al-Taj al-Jami’a, vol. 11, p. 49.
21. Ibid, vol. 5, pp. 343 and 344.
22. Sahih Abi Dawood, vol. 2, p. 208.
23. A tradition is munqti’a whose chain does not include all its reporters. See: Dirayat al-Hadith, p. 113.
24. Yanabi’a al-Muwadda, p. 518.
25. ‘Aqd al-Durar fi Akhbar al-Muntazar, pp. 23 and 24.
26. ‘Aqd al-Durar fi Akhbar al-Muntazar, p. 31.
27. Musnad Ahmad vol. 1, p. 376.
28. Ibid.
29. Ibid, vol. 1, p. 430.
30. Ibid, vol. 1, p. 448.
31. Ibid.
32. According to Sunnis, hasan is a type of tradition whose narrators are almost reliable.
33. Sahih Tirmidhi, vol. 4, p. 438.
34. Sunan Abu Dawood, vol. 2, p. 207.

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