The Last Signs Heralding His Reappearance
There is a Hadith from Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) that for three or seven consecutive days, one will see reddish yellow fire raging in the East which is a sure sign that the advent of the Imam (a.s) will be imminent. Some commentators have interpreted this Hadith to suggest nuclear explosion. Indeed as much of the world as its two-thirds will have been destroyed. Yet one finds that the lust for blood will not have been quenched and two more wars will follow as a matter of course, one after the other. The signs described by Aimma Alaihimussalaam are that these two wars are almost a necessary pre-requisite to the Zuhur of the Imam (a.s).
First, the emergence of the Sufiani. In so far as the Sufiani is concerned, we know for sure from the Hadith of Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) as well as other Imam as reported in Qiyamat-e-Sugra by Syed Muhammad Abbas Qamar Zaidi. Sufiani will emerge in Palestine, where he will start a revolt in the month of Rajab. He will be a ruthless rebel and his rule will last for eight consecutive months. That is to say, that it will start in Rajab and it will stretch into Safar of the ensuing year. The narration is that after he starts the revolt in Palestine, he will march towards North Africa and conquer and rule Egypt for four consecutive months. He will then move further west. He will conquer Tunisia, Algeria and go as far as Morrocco. His greed will then make him come back east to Palestine and conquer Jordan and from Jordan get to Syria. He will cause tremendous destruction and chaos in Syria but he will find it a suitable shelter and will make Damascus his headquarters. This person, Sufiani, has been specifically described by Aimma (a.s.) as an ugly, blistered, green-eyed person who will by an enemy of the friends of the Ahl-lul Bayt (a.s.).
Imam Ali (a.s.) has said that Sufiani’s hatred of the devotees of the Ahlul-Bayt will be such that any person named Ali, Fatema, Hasan, Husein, Zainab, Ruqaiya will be arrested and beheaded straight away without further investigations. In fact he will cause so much havoc that people will be living in terror. Whilst a good number of us perhaps today merely recite Allahummasalli Allah Muhammadin Waali Muhammad Waajil Farajahum as a matter of course, the people in those times will whole - heartedly be praying for emergence of Imam Mehdi (a.s.). Indeed the order of the day will be that there will be a general command from the administration that any person detected to be a follower of Ahlul-Bayt should immediately be reported to the authorities. There will be guards moving around watching for any sign that would indicate that the person is a devotee of Ahl-lul Bayt. Indeed, neighbors will be commanded to report neighbors, and the situation will become so awful, so atrocious , that fathers will report their children, brothers will report their brothers, neighbors will find no safety from their neighbors, each reporting the other only to obtain sufficient rewards from the administration to survive in those difficult days of hardship. But apart from these torture and oppression that will prevail, the Jewish soldiers acting for Sufiani, over seventy thousand of them, will be so ruthless that there will be no woman whose chastity nor no man whose neck will be safe. Traditions reveal quite clearly that almost all of the seventy thousand in the army of Sufiani will be illegitimate children. They will be ruthless and will cause chaos, they will not only attack chastity, they will also attack humanity and there will be open daylight robbery. Indeed in those days to find sustenance will be difficult that Ahadith go so far as to say that a father will be prepared to give away a young beautiful daughter only to obtain a loaf of bread for his sustenance. Such will be the intensity of suffering that will be imposed upon the public by Sufiani. The Sufiani terrors will not end there. From Syria he will march into Iraq and he will cause untold horror there also. He will reach the Mosque of Kufa, and destroy its walls but then somehow he will become frightened. What exactly will scare him away is not clear from the traditions but he will flee back to Syria. One would have thought the oppression of Sufiani would cool off, but that will not be so. He will then embark upon attacking Medina. Ahadith say that the tortures and destruction caused by Muslim bin Aqaba in the history we already know of will be insignificant compared to the destruction and chaos that Sufiani will cause in Medina, so much so that the Member of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.w.) will be ripped. The Holy House of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.w.) which contains his grave will be pulled down and used as a stable. Horses will be tried in that Holy place.
Not content with all that, Sufiani will then decide to attack Mecca. And his purpose in attacking Mecca will be twofold, firstly to completely demolish of the Holy Kaaba and secondly, ruthlessly to kill the entire population of Mecca. So his army will set out via Baghdad but, as Allah would have it, when they get between Medina and Mecca, in the desert of Baida, suddenly one night they will hear a voice from the sky which will say, "O Baida eat up the entire army of Sufiani" and it is said that the entire army numbering almost 100,000 persons will all be swallowed up by the earth, except for two. And those two who will be spared will narrate that the army was swallowed up by the land in such a way that there would not even be a trace of a single man of the army. Their vehicles, their weapons and all materials will be buried along with them in one full swoop. The two who will be spared will suddenly encounter an angel. He will slap both of them turning their faces right round, looking behind instead of front. And that will be the time when Imam A.S. will already have reappeared in Mecca. He will establish his authority in the Holy Mosque at Mecca in the Haram. The angel will then order one of them calling him Bashir, "O Bashir, go straight to Mecca, into the Haram and inform the Imam A.S. that Sufiani’s army has been swallowed up by the land". Bashir means a person who sends good tiding. The other will be called Nazir who will be ordered to go to Sufiani and tell him that the Mahdi A.S. has already appeared. He should proceed straight to Mecca and declare allegiance to him.
We have just discussed the details of the tortures of which he will be the cause, the murders and massacres which he will mastermind and ultimately answer for. Indeed, he will prepare himself to attack the Imam A.S. but will not have the courage. It is said that the Imam will then move from Mecca and go to Medina. Once in Medina he will decide to go after Sufiani to allay the fears of the people. Despite losing the whole army swallowed up by the land his lust to kill and loot will not have averted. People will be beseeching Hazrat Hujjat A.S. who would already have reappeared to come to their salvation. Hazrat Hujjat A.S. will march to Syria. At this point the traditions differ; one says that the Imam A.S. will catch him in Syria and kill him in Damascus. The other tradition says that Sufiani realizing the Imam is in hot pursuit will escape to Palestine where the Imam A.S. will eventually catch him in Jerusalem. There will be a direct confrontation at Baitul Muqaddas and Sufiani will be killed at the holy hands of the Imam A.S. However, the traditions on earth in Damascus and he will participate in attacking the remnants of the army of Sufiani and kill a number of them. Indeed, he will be with the Imam A.S. when Sufiani meets his fate. If the Imam A.S. reappears in Muharram it will be a full month before Sufiani will be killed. The Aimma Alaihimussalaam have repeatedly fore-warned us about Sufiani, simply because of his intense hatred for the devotees of the Ahl-lul Bayt A.S. Perhaps the persecution of the followers of Ahl-lul Bayt in the days of the Omayyad and Abbaside rulers was less intense than what awaits at the hands of Sufiani.
But whilst there will be such terror and tyranny here will also be another army of hope, mercy and salvation. It is said that a Seyyid descendant of Imam Hasan A.S. known as Seyyide Hasani, will star a revolution immediately join him in great numbers and his slogan will be Amr bil Maaruf wa Nahy anil Munkar. We have already seen how in those days Amr bil Maaruf wa Nahy anil Munkar will be impossible. How many of us see our friends doing wrong done publicly and are not able to redress them? But in those days the situation will be beyond control and yet this Seyyide Hasani will embark on such a mission. Propagating his mission he will move right down to Kerman and up to Multan. He will then decide to get into Iraq and see how he can confront Sufiani and how he can put right the wrongs of the day. He will decide to travel by sea and so he will get into the Gulf and eventually land in Basra. He will influence the region around Basra. News will reach him that the Imam A.S has appeared in Mecca. At this stage he will concentrate how to meet the Imam A.S. Imam Hafar-e-Sadiq a.s reports quite categorically that when this news will reach Seyyide Hasani he will be convinced that the claim is of the true Imam Mahdi A.S. and not of an impostor. However, to satisfy his army he will make investigations. He will receive a word that the Imam has already left Mecca and is on his way to Medina form where he will be proceeding to Kufa. So Seyyide Hasani with his entire army, will diver t his journey form Basra to Kufa, where he will have audience with the Imam A.S. However Shaitan will still be alive on that day. He will cause chaos. A number of people in the army of Seyyide Hasani will challenge the authenticity of the Imam A.S., so Seyyide Hasani will ask for proof. He will, it is said in traditions, as for the Ammamma (turban) of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.W.), the Imam a.s. will produce it. But he will seek further proof and the Imam a.s. will prove it by hitting it on the ground and immediately a tree will grow and in split seconds will sprout branches and leaves and blossom into fruits. The speed at which this will happen will be unnatural and unheard of. Even that will not satisfy the Seyyid’s army. They will ask for further proof. The Imam A.S. will then embark upon providing proof of his own. He will produce the Standard, The Alam which will have been unfolded. It is said that the Standard has been used only twice. In the war at Badr and in the war of Jamal. They will ask the Imam for proof that this is the same Standard. The Imam will instruct the Standard: "disclose your identity". It is said that the flag will become vocal and will say, "I am now being held by the rightful descendant of the Prophet, the true Mahdi of the day." The Imam will then produce Thulfiqar, (the sword) which will become vocal and will say "I am in the hands of the rightful owner of mine, the true descendant of the Prophet and the true Mahdi of this day." Even that will not satisfy them. The Imam will then produce the A’saayah of Nabi Musa. They will ask for proof that it is the walking stick of Nabi Musa. So the Imam A.S. will repeat the miracle Nabi Musa performed when facing Pharaoh. He will hit it one the stone and twelve streams of water will immediately flow out of it. The Imam will then ask if the army is not yet satisfied with his proofs. He will produce the ring of Nabi Suleiman. When Nabi Suleiman wore the ring, immediately all the birds would come in and gather near him and speak to him and he would speak to them in their language. That episode will be repeated. Birds will gather round the Imam A.S.; and will later disperse. After that Seyyide Hasani himself will ask the Imam, "I know that the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.w.) had an armor which can only fit his true descendant and nobody else." Hazrat Hujjat A.S. will produce that armor and will first give it to Seyyide Hasani. And the Imam will then say "Wear it on you". Seyyide Hasani will then start trembling. He will say "I did not ask for proof. I only asked for this to convince my army. My body is not capable of taking this from your hands." The Imam will then insist. The Armor will not fit Seyyide Hasani. The Imam will then challenge anybody else to try it on. The Imam will eventually put in on himself. It will be a perfect fit. With all these signs the Imam will say, "I have now given you sufficient proof that I am the Mahdi of the time." At that time the majority of the army of Seyyide Hasani will declare allegiance to the Imam A.S., but 4,000 Yemenis who will be followers of Zaid who was the son of the Fourth Imam A.S.. Although he never proclaimed to be an Imam, some people regarded him so. They will refuse to swear allegiance. For three days they will be persuaded but on their refusal to swear allegiance to the Imam A.S. will be killed.
Two signs are a absolutely inevitable. It is only after the ,arrogance of Seyyide-e-Hasani and Sufiani that the Imam’s arrival can be expected. But the Ahadith are clear also that all these three events, the emergence of Sufiani in Palestine, the emergence of Seyyide-e-Hasani from Iran and the emergence of the Imam A.S. in Mecca will take place during the same period of twelve months. That will be the crucial time.
Thus the position at that stage will be one chaos caused by Sufiani on the one hand and the attempt by Seyyide-e-Hasani to bring people back to religion on the other. In between these two, the Imam A.S. will reappear and will kill all the enemies so as to bring about justice and equity in the world. Apart from these, there are two other smaller events will happen. A revolution will take place in Yemen and the rebels will go right up to Mecca but will eventually be pushed back. Another person will rise in Kuwait causing great dissension. Propagating his ideology he will move right up to Syria, where eventually he will be killed, perhaps by Sufiani.
The last eight months before Thuhr will have very clear signs, in fact we can even start with about 11 months before Thuhr. Imam Jafar al Sadiq (a.s.) has said to Jabir-Jaafi that in the month of Safar preceding the emergence of the Imam A.S. there will appear a comet, known as Al Qarb Zushifa. The Imam A.S. says that this comet had been seen when the Abassid Khalifa visited Khorasan. It had become visible just before the destruction of the followers of Nabi Nuh. It emerged when Ibrahim was being thrown into the fire by Namrud. It was visible before destruction of the Pharaoh in the time of Musa and it rose when Yahya ibne Zakaria, was murdered in Damascus. So the appearance of this comet has always been accompanied by dire events: when Ibrahim was to be killed, when a complete Ummah of Nuh was to be wiped out, when Nafs-e-Zakia, or Yahya ibn Zakaria was to be killed. This comet will again appear in the month of Safar before the Thuhr. It is also recorded that a two-tailed star will appear in the sky before the advent of Imam Mahdi A.S. and it will be so bright that it will shine like a full moon. That will also be in the month of Safar. Then we do not know much of what is to follow for a few months but when we come to the eighth month before Thuhr, the month of Jamadi-us-thani, it is said that from the 16th of Jamadi-us-thani to the 10th of Rajab there will be incessant and torrential rain which will cause great damage. In a way it will be welcome because for three years preceding that period there will be have been famine and drought. There will not have been a drop of rain in the whole world for three years before that; this is why people will be prepared to give away their daughters in living for a loaf of bread. The rains will last up to the 10th of Rajab when Sufiani will emerge. One calamity will be followed by another. Rajab will see another sign. There will be a vision of a hand in the sun and a human face will be seen in the moon and will startle the people. In that month numerous other miracles will begin to appear. In the succeeding month, the holy month of Ramadhan, there will be a lunar eclipse at the end of the month and a solar eclipse in the middle of the month. The ordinary position will be reversed. It will shock the people. It is said that this will be a positive sign and that it will be the last holy month before the emergence of the Imam A.S. But something even more remarkable will happen in that holy month. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) has said that soon after the middle of that month which Imam Jafar al Sadiq (a.s.) had elucidated as 23rd of the month of Ramadhan, Momineen should spend the whole of that night in prayer. It will not only be a lailatul Juma (Friday eve) but also Lailatul Qadr and the next morning they should lock themselves in their houses. In fact, every effort should be made to keep away from glass. Doors should be so bolted that nothing should penetrate through them, because the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and the Imam A.S. have warned that at about mid-day, a shriek will be heard from the sky and it will be so powerful that it will be heard all over the world and so strong that it will cause untold horrors and destruction. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) has taught us, "When that period comes, prostrate and recite, SUBHANAL QUDDUS, RABBUNAL QUDDUS" and he said that those who would continue with this recitation would be spared any harm from that shriek. Ahadith states that at least three loud voices will be heard in that month. What will follow in Shawwal will be great upheavals. The month of Zilqaad will see rifts everywhere and in Zilhajj, caravans of Hujjaj will be looted, and the road to pilgrimage will be blocked. What will happen during Zilhajj will be horrible, but the horrors that will occur in Muharram are absolutely beyond description and it is said that it is in that month of Muharram that there will be the final emergence of the Imam A.S. These briefly will be the signs that will portray with certainty the arrival of the Imam A.S. The exact date is not known, even by the Imam A.S. himself - only Allah knows.
But at far as it was possible for Aimma Alaihimusalam to guide us, this is the pattern that has been unfolded. As was apparent from our discussion the happenings of early days are more speculative in regard to the emergence of the Imam. But as we progress nearer to the time of Thuhr we are able to tell with exactitude from the signs of the emergence of the Imam A.S.
Hazrat Ali (a.s.) has said that nine definite signs will precede the emergence of Hazrat Mahdi A.S. First, he says, Dajaal will emerge. Secondly, a loud voice will be heard from the sky. Thirdly, Sufiani will appear and wage a fierce war. Fourthly, the army of Sufiani will be swallowed by a sudden opening of the land between Mecca and Medina in the desert of Baida. Fifthly, a revered wise saint will be murdered in Mecca. Traditions have it that this will happen on the 23rd of Zilhajj and that this Nafse Zakia will be a Hashimite descent. Sixth, a Seyyid descendant of Imam Hasan (a.s.) will emerge with his army, the army of Seyyid-e-Hasani and an image of a man will appear in the sky opposite the sun. We have seen how this will happen in the month of Shaban. There will be two eclipses in the holy month of Ramadhan contrary to the normal order and calculation and the eclipse of the moon. The last is that on three occasions a loud voice from the sky will be heard in the holy month of Ramadhan. According to Hazrat Ali A.S., these signs are absolute pre-requisite to the re-emergence of the Imam A.S. Finally, Imam Jafar al Sadiq (a.s.) was asked, "When such will be the chaos and the insufferable calamities of the time, how do we spare ourselves from going astray?"
Indeed Ahadith say that at that time living the life of a Moomin will be like treading on the edge of a sharp knife. Imam A.S. was asked how one could come through the turmoil patiently and bear the sufferings until the emergence of the Imam A.S. He taught us a small dua’a, "YA ALLAH, YA RAHMANU, YA RAHIM, YA MUQALLIBAL QULUB, THABBIT QALBI ALA DINIK".