The Life of Imam al-Mahdi

By: Allama Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi

Translation by: Sayyid Athar Husain S.H. Rizvi

p. 344-350
One of the sure signs of the reappearance of the Awaited Imam (a.s) is the advent of Sufyani who is one of the pillars of mischief and corruption on the earth. We shall discuss in brief about him also.

Sufyani’s Lineage

Some sources explain that Sufyani is from the lineage of Khalid bin Yazid the great grandson of Abu Sufyan, the oldest enemy of the Holy Prophet (a.s) and Islam. Actually this clan was nurtured for the sole purpose of animosity towards Islam, Quran and wickedness.

Physical features of Sufyani

He shall be having a fat body and a swollen face and there is a white spot on his eye.[1]

Sufyani’s Character

Sufyani shall be having a mischievous temperament and oppressive nature towards people. Actually, he shall be a person who has transmogrified and the filthiest of them. When appears, he would have children killed and bellies of women slit.[2] He would put righteous people to death and commit the worst of deeds and destructions.

Tradition of His Eminence, Ali (a.s) regarding Sufyani

His Eminence, Ali (a.s) issued an important and detailed narration regarding the crimes, oppressions and tyrannies of Sufyani. After His Eminence mentioned the name of Sufyani he said, “He is the accursed one in the heavens and the earth and the most oppressive of the creatures of Allah…Thus he would appear suddenly, and greedy and hateful people would gather around him and their figure shall reach 50000. Then he would send them to the Kalb tribe. They would come towards him like floodwaters. At that time Berbers shall fight with Abbaside rulers and they are from Dailamites, Turks and non-Arabs. They shall have black flags and Berbers shall have yellow flags while the flag of Sufyani shall be red. They shall have a severe battle in the center of the Jordan valley and 60000 men shall be killed and as a result of this Sufyani would be victorious and he shall adjudicate regarding them so that the sayer says, ‘Nothing but lies have been told about him.’ By Allah, they themselves are liars. If they realize what benefits the community of Muhammad has obtained from them, they would never speak about them in this manner. He would dispense justice in this way and move forwards and pass by the Euphrates River and then return to Damascus. He would prepare two armies and send one of them to Medina and another to the East. However, the army that he dispatches to the East would kill 70000 people in Zura (Baghdad) and slit the bellies of 300 women; and from Baghdad it would move to Kufa and slay some people there also.

The army sent towards Medina would accomplish what it had intended, then move towards Mecca. When they shall be in the middle of the desert, a caller would call to them. And he is Jibraeel. Then none would remain among them except that Allah shall cause them to sink into the earth. There would be only two survivors. One shall be the giver of glad-tidings and the other a warner. So the two of them would return to Sufyani and inform him about the fate of his army. These two persons shall be from Juhaina.

After that a group from the descendants of the Messenger of Allah (a.s) shall flee towards Rome. Sufyani would ask the ruler of Rome to send them back and the Roman king would deport them. Then Sufyani would slay them in the eastern side of the Damascus Mosque and none would say anything against it. Then 70000 persons would move to Kufa and Basra. They would surround the cities, kill the enemies, burn the Quran, demolish mosques, make unlawful as lawful, make sinful acts lawful and make everything that Allah had made obligatory on them as unlawful. They will not refrain from any transgression and sinful act. On the basis of their animosity towards the Progeny of the Messenger, they would put to death anyone having the name of Ahmad, Muhammad, Ali, Ja’far, Hamzah, Hasan, Husain, Fatima, Zainab, Ruqaiyyah, Umme Kulthum, Khadijah or Aatika.

After that they would collect children, boil olive oil for them, and kill them. Children would plead that even if their parents had opposed them, they have caused them no harm. He would take out two children from them named Hasan and Husain and crucify them.

Then they would rush to Kufa and do the same thing with children there. Here also two children, named Hasan and Husain would be crucified at the Mosque gate. Their blood would boil like the blood of Yahya bin Zakaria. So when he sees them he would become certain that calamity and death is inevitable. After that he would go Syria and not bear to see anyone opposing him. When he enters Syria he would make wine and sinful activities lawful for himself and his followers and command them for these acts. Sufyani will come out openly armed and catch a woman and throw her towards his companions and tell them to rape her. They would rape her in the middle of the road and then slit her belly and take out the fetus from her and none would raise any voice against it. Then angels of God would become restless in the heavens. At that time the Almighty Allah would command Jibraeel to scream over the festivities of Damascus, ‘O community of Muhammad! The refuge and shelter has arrived. Your release has come. This is Mahdi, who has arisen from Mecca. So harken to him.’”

Then His Eminence, Ali (a.s) explained the characteristics of Imam Mahdi (a.s), characteristics and number of his followers, the Hasanid Sayyid who would pledge allegiance to him etc.

“And clamor would arise in Syria that the Bedouins of Hijaz are moving towards them. Then Sufyani shall ask his companions, ‘What do you think about this communitya’ They would reply, ‘They are archers and camel riders while we are strong and armed with weapons. Take us out so that we may confront them.’ They think that Sufyanis are fearful and he knows what is expected of him. After that 260 persons shall come out and reach Hira (Tiberia) and Mahdi shall also move forward and on his way no town or city comes but that it gives the message of peace, security and glad tidings. Jibraeel shall be to his right and Mikaeel to his left and people would join him from all sides. In these circumstances there is confrontation with Sufyani at Tiberia. The Almighty Allah sends His wrath on Sufyani and his followers and all the creatures, including the bird are wrathful on Sufyani and his followers hitting him with their wings and feathers. The mountains hit the Sufyani army with stones and the Almighty Allah destroys the army of Sufyani. Due to the defeat they flee the battlefield and a man named Sabah, a follower of Imam, arrests Sufyani and brings him to Imam Mahdi (a.s) while he was concluding his night Prayer (Isha). The Imam concludes his Prayer and comes out to see that a turban is put around the neck of Sufyani and is being pulled. After that Sufyani is left with the Imam and he addresses the Imam, ‘O cousin! Have pity on me so that I may survive. I give you my word that I would be your sword and fight your enemies.’ While he (the Imam) is among his companions he says, ‘Catch hold of him.’

The companions would ask, ‘O son of the daughter of the Messenger of Allah! Would you let him live while he has killed the descendants of the Messenger of Allah ?’

His Eminence shall say, ‘The decision is upon you.’

Sabah along with a group of people would take Sufyani near Sidra, behead him and bring his severed head to His Eminence, Imam Mahdi (a.s). Then Shias of Mahdi shall glance at the severed head and raise slogans of ‘Allah is the Greatest. There is no God except Allah and Praise be to Allah.’ Then His Eminence would command them to bury it.’”[3]

Since the chain of narrators of this tradition is authentic it provides a detailed account the circumstances of Sufyani, that he shall be a sinful and tyrannical fellow who would render the prohibited of God as lawful. And that his end shall be at the powerful hands of His Eminence, the Wali of Allah, the Greatest.

Duration of Sufyani’s Rule

The period of Sufyani’s rule and his oppression shall last for eight months. In this brief time span he would exceed all limits in wreaking havoc and terror. He shall slay the righteous and during his tenure the hope of the weak, the deprived and the oppressed, His Eminence, Imam Mahdi (a.s) shall reappear.

Black Flags

Another sure sign of the reappearance is the formation of Islamic army, which would raise up black standards and it is strongly conjectured that the black flags shall be for the sake of the mourning for the chief of the martyrs and the beloved grandson of the Messenger of Allah (a.s), Imam Husain (a.s). Here we narrate some traditions on this subject:

1. Thauban narrates from the Messenger of Allah (a.s) that he said, “When you see black flags approaching from Khorasan, join them, because the Caliph of God, His Eminence, Imam Mahdi (a.s) is among them.”[4]

2. Hasan narrates from the Messenger of Allah (a.s) that His Eminence mentioned the calamities that would befall his Ahle Bayt (a.s) and then said, “Till the time the Almighty Allah brings out the black flags from east; and He shall help all those who help it. And whosoever causes disrespect to him shall be degraded by Allah. Till the time they shall gather near a person having my name and entrust their affairs to his guardianship (Wilayat). Then the Almighty Allah would support and help him.”[5]

3. Jabir has quoted from Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) that he said, “The flags that arrive from Khorasan shall reach Kufa. And when His Eminence, Imam Mahdi (a.s) reappears from Mecca, these flags shall go towards him and pledge allegiance to him.”

4. Abdullah bin Masud says, “We were with the Messenger of Allah (a.s) and suddenly we saw that some Hashemite youths approached and upon seeing them, His Eminence became worried and his eyes opened wide and his complexion changed. I asked, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! What’s wrong with youa Why your mood has changed suddenlya’ He replied, ‘We and my Ahle Bayt, the Almighty Allah has selected for us the Hereafter over the world. Very soon my Ahle Bayt shall fall into calamities, arrests and flights. Till the time groups will come from east, holding black flags. Then they would not get anything but good. They would fight a battle and they shall be victorious and whatever they desire shall be given to them but they shall not accept it. A person from my Ahle Bayt would be given the power to fill the earth with justice and equity, as it would be full of injustice and oppression. Whomsoever of you reaches them should join that group.’”

5. Jalaluddin Suyuti quoted the Messenger of Allah (a.s) that he said, “Black flags shall come out of Khorasan and nothing could halt their movement till they reach Eliya.”

Ibne Kathir says, “These are not flags of Abu Muslim Khorasani that the Umayyads may destroy. Rather they are some other flags that shall be with His Eminence, Imam Mahdi (a.s).”

6. Abu Tufail Aamir narrated from His Eminence, Ali (a.s) that he said, “O Aamir! Whenever you hear that flags are moving from Khorasan, and you are in a casket and it is locked, you must break the lock so that you may lay your life below those flags. If you are not able to break it, you must overturn it so that you may reach under the flags.”

Others traditions that prove that black flags would appear from the east or from Khorasan, imply that it is the preface to the reappearance of His Eminence, Imam Mahdi (a.s).

[1] Iqdud Durar
[2] Iqdud Durar
[3] Al-Mahdi Maood Al-Muntazar, 2/97-100 quoted from Iqdud Durar
[4] Kanzul Ummal, 7/182
[5] Al-Malahim wal Fitan, Ibne Tawus 1/100

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