Book Review: Mahdi – The Promised Caliph

We live in an increasingly confusing world, the religio-political domain is in a state of constant flux, in times like these we need to take a step back and truly understand our faith so as to ensure we don’t fall prey to misguidance and propaganda. It is in this context that a book on the Mahdi plays an instrumental role.

Mahdi Book

This book tackles quite a few fundamental questions that are being asked today by young Muslims worldwide:

  • Who is the Mahdi and is he an imaginatory figure of Islamic mythos?
  • Are extremist groups representative of a Caliphate?
  • Are the hadiths about the end times fabricated?

The book is written for the layman and scholar alike, for the Muslim and non-Muslim. It’s language is plain and simple, Islamic terms are thoroughly explained and the writing style is straightforward. Meaning then, that there are no complex theories here, there is no obfuscation by the author, no flowery language, they get straight to the point. This is no better displayed than in the first chapter where the author explains why there is no mention of the Mahdi in the Qur’an. In answering this question, they set a foundation from which to explain the traditional Islamic understanding of who the Mahdi is. He is not some fanciful, legendary figure with magical powers who with the flick of his fingers will fix all the ills of the world. This is simply, not the traditional Islamic perception of the Mahdi.

It is important to understand that eschatology (end time beliefs) is a highly contentious topic, with speculation as its mainstay. A lot of people will be familiar with Islamic personalities who apply various narrations to modern day countries and groups based on highly problematic interpretations that seem to change with whatever direction the wind is blowing in. Many Muslims have been mislead by the series the Arrivals, others by Imran Nazar Hosein, who as it should be known is a countryman of myself, we are fellow Trinidadians. No one doubts the importance of studying Islamic teachings on eschatology, we all in some way want to understand how these narrations relate to our world today. In one way, it’s a means of removing existential doubt as we find our place in the world today, on the other hand it is also a means of hoping for a better future for the world. This is another place where a book like this becomes instrumental, it lets us know that yes we can in some cases apply some narrations from the hadith corpus to today’s world but it also makes it clear that there is a lot we can’t know for certain and that the authentic narrations may not apply to our generation at all.

A point of note is the author’s handling of recent extremist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda. The author dutifully points out in a systematic and objective way that the interpretations of the hadiths used to give legitimacy to the aforementioned groups are purely speculative and absolutely false. In no uncertain words, the author plainly states that neither ISIS nor al Qaeda have any relation to the Mahdi or a genuine Caliphate, he agrees that they are extremist groups and their claims for a Caliphate or Khilafa are absolutely illegitimate. Here’s an excerpt of the author’s analysis of a hadith used by extremist groups:

The primary meaning of Harith is tiller or ploughman. If Usama meant a farmer or a villager it would have made more sense, however, it means lion and hence does not apply. Saying that one of the meanings of Harith is a young lion is also a stretch and leads one to incorrect conclusions. Using this logic, we find that one of the meanings of happy is willing whereas the primary meaning is being glad or feeling pleasure. A person may be happy to help and hence willing in that sense but this does not change the main meaning of the word. Such dodgy logic has been used for both Usama and Zawahiri.

Harith, Harrath, Mansur, Usama, and Laden are all Arabic words and it does not make sense at all that the Prophet (ﷺ) would use one Arabic name to describe another Arabic name. Describing a president (in English) as Ameer (in Arabic) or a mayor (in English) as Haakim (in Arabic) makes sense but describing one Arabic name with another is actually insulting the Prophet (ﷺ) because the Prophet (ﷺ) did not speak in confusing terms – he was concise, clear, and eloquent.

Simple and straight to the point. For a young Muslim to read this, they will surely see through the propaganda of extremist groups, and as for a non-Muslim, it demonstrates that Islam does not endorse or provide an intellectual basis for extremist groups. In other words, this section of the book serves two purposes, a means of guiding young Muslims away from extremist groups by grounding them in a traditional understanding of Islam, and on the other hand it does da’wah towards our non-Muslim brothers and sisters by demonstrating the intellectual beauty of Islam.

Towards the end of the book the author has compiled a vast collection of fabricated and weak hadith narrations from various hadith collections. This is important, as I am not aware of someone having done so in English previously. The internet has fueled the use of “fake news”, and Islamic eschatology has not escaped this onslaught of fake news. To this end, the author has some 29 pages of the book dedicated to this collection of weak and fabricated narrations. This in effect provides Muslims with a reliable resource to refer to when reading or seeing end times media on the internet. It is astounding to see the number of weak narrations that are used by those who profit off of making “prophecies” on behalf of Islam. The author has no doubt done a dutiful service to the religion of Islam in providing us with such an extensive collection of fabricated and weak narrations on this topic.

Lastly, the author provides a breakdown of the general order of events that will occur before, during and after the time of the Mahdi. This is important because if left to our own devices to delineate the series of events that should take place, we would be no better off than watching a random YouTube video on the topic. By providing us with a simple progression of events, a lot of the propaganda out there is rendered useless. Not only does the author go through each narration in detail throughout the book, the chronology that summarizes the events at the end of the book serves as an excellent conclusion. In a sense some scholars of literature have referred to this as the inclusio literary device, a powerful language device used to aid a reader in fully understanding what has been written. This in itself demonstrates the level of careful detail and planning that went into the development of this book. While I must admit I am not one who is fond of or interested in Islamic eschatology, this book has provided me with a comprehensive study of the topic, one that has given me meaningful and useful knowledge about Islam and Islamic thought. I would definitely recommend this book, it’s only been available for a few days but I honestly see it as something which is needed in our time.

The book is now available and can be bought at the following links:

For further works by the same author please see their Qur’an Answers website.

and God knows best.

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Categories: Islam

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1 reply

  1. Thank you , br Ijaz.

    I wrote these points earlier :

    *Is it important to know these hadiths about the end of time ?
    Yes it’s very important because there are instructions from the prophet ﷺ which are very crucial to save your faith.
    For example these hadiths about the (Antichrist) in Sahih Muslim
    The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) mentioned the Dajjal (Antichrist) saying: If he comes forth while I am among you I shall be the one who will dispute with him on your behalf, but if he comes forth when I am not among you, a man must dispute on his own behalf, and Allah will take my place in looking after every Muslim. Those of you who live up to his time should recite over him the opening verses of Surat al – Kahf, for they are your protection from his trial”

    The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Whoever commits to memory the first ten Ayat of the Surat Al-Kahf, will be protected from Fitnah (the trial/test of) Ad-Dajjal (Antichrist).”

    And this hadith about Euphrates river
    Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said:
    The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The Hour will not come to pass before the River Euphrates dries up to unveil the mountain of gold, for which people will fight. Ninety-nine out of one hundred will die (in the fighting) and every man amongst them will say: ‘Perhaps I may be the only one to remain alive.”‘
    Another narration is: “The time is near when the River Euphrates will dry up to unveil a treasure of gold. Whosoever may be alive at that time, should not take anything of it.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

    *How to approach these hadiths?
    It’s very important to study these hadiths under a scholar because many hadiths could be not clear or they could be weak ones. Also, you should NOT apply any hadith for a certain event/situation.
    It’s a very dangerous step. Muslims have to be very careful in this regard.
    You know hadiths of Al Mahdi, which most of them are weak. These hadiths have made many shaking events in the Islamic history because an X person had applied them to his very wrong view.
    For example, Juhayman al-Otaybi and his invasion to Al Masjid Al Harram in 1979.
    He was assuming that Al Mahdi was with him, and Al Mahdi has to take Bya’ah between 2 corners of Ka’abah while that hadith is very weak! It’s not authentic hadith!
    In fact, all hadiths containing this term (Mahdi) are weak according to some hadith scholars. Therefore, Ibn Khaldon rejected almost all hadiths of Al Mahdi. And I think Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal said something about that the best narration about ”Al Mahdi” is a narration by Ibn Abbas not from the prophet even, and even if that narration was from the prophet, there’s no the term (Al mahdi) in it.
    Also, when the prophet ﷺ says something about an event in the future, that doesn’t mean we have to make it. I mean If it’s a prophecy, then it will happen whether you like that or not.
    The crazy evangelicals and like ISIS want to make the prophecy be fulfilled forcibly. No! This is very stupid.

    *As muslims we don’t have the concept of (waiting). What do I mean by that?
    You know that christians, Jews, and even Twelver Shia have the concept of (waiting) to be saved or to live a utopian life. Those people ( i.e. christians, jews,Twelver Shia) and according to their religious texts and literature have to stop their religion till the savior comes. Therefore, Paul in christianity was more than willing to be under any pagan authority since the savior will come. In Judaism, jews rejected Jesus for they had believed that Messiah had to save them first to believe in him ( i.e. they just need to relax and wait for these things to happen).
    Twelver Shia have canceled the obligatory of Jum’ah prayer and the concept of Jihad because that is for Mahdi only to do asa leader. In sum, these three beliefs teach that it’s ok to be a butt for anyone to kick you till the savior comes to save you.

    In contrast, in Islam we do not have this notion of (waiting). Yes the prophet ﷺ said that Jesus will descend to earth, but that doesn’t mean we are going wait him to practice our religion. We have to do what Allah has commanded us because our religion is already a complete one. And When Jesus will descend, don’t ever think that you will be sitting & relaxing. No! There’ll be a fight with Jesus against the enemy of Islam. This life as whole is a trial, and the reward will be hereafter.

    The irony here is that christians and Jews have disbelieved in their beliefs through zionism and crusader wars. Twelver Shia as well have disbelieved in their belief by creating a new system called( Welayat Al faqeeh), yet some stupid muslims are still with the concept of waiting while we don’t have this concept in our religion in the first place.
    If Saladin had had this notion of waiting, he would’ve not liberated Jerusalem from the crusaders.
    He could have said easily we are at the end of time, let’s just wait for Jesus to come.

    Like

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