Numerous hadiths have been cited in Sunni sources that support the belief in the last Imam (A.S.) and his role in the last days. Sunni scholars in the Muslim World League issued a fatwa in Mecca on Oct. 11, 1976, which stated that:
The memorizers (Huffadh) and scholars of Hadith have verified that there are authentic (Sahih) and acceptable (Hasan) reports among the traditions related to al-Mahdi. The majority of these traditions are related through numerous authorities (Mutawatir). There is no doubt that the status of those reports are Sahih and Mutawatir. (They have also verified) that the belief in Mahdi is obligatory, and that it is one of the beliefs of Ahlussunnah wal Jama\’a. Only those ignorant of the Sunnah and innovators in doctrine deny it.
Several Sunni hadith verify that Imam al-Mahdi (A.S.) will come to fight corruption and inequality, will be victorious, and will then rule with justice. According to Sunan Ibn Majah (Volume 2, Tradition #4082), the Prophet of Islam (Pbuhahf) said:
We (my family and I) are members of a household that Allah (SWT) has chosen for them the life of the Hereafter over the life of this world; and the members of my household (Ahlul-Bayt) shall suffer a great affliction and they shall be forcefully expelled from their homes after my death; then there will come people from the East carrying black flags, and they will ask for some good to be given to them, but they shall be refused service; as such, they will wage war and emerge victorious, and will be offered that which they desired in the first place, but they will refuse to accept it, until a man from my family (Ahlul-Bayt) appears to fill the Earth with justice as it has been filled with corruption. So whoever reaches that (time) aught to come to them even if crawling on the ice/snow.”
Another Sunni hadith, which has been verified by many Sunni scholars, is the following saying by Prophet Muhammad (Pbuhahf), “Mahdi from my family will bring about a revolution and will fill the world with justice and equity before which it was filled up with injustice and inequity.” Some of the Sunni scholars that verified this hadith are Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (Volume 1, p.84), al-Fusool al-Muhimmah (Chapter 12) by Ibn Sabbagh Maliki, and Arjahul Matalib (p.380) by Ubaidallah Hindi Hanafi, to name a few. A third Sunni hadith is also verified by several well known Sunni scholars, such as Sahih Muslim (part 2, p.19), Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (Volume 3), and al-Sawa\’iq al-Muhriqah by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami (Chapter 11, Section 1, p. 251). This hadith is related from Jabirus Ibn Abdillah al-Ansari as follows:
I heard the Messenger of Allah saying: “A group of my Ummah will fight for the truth until near the day of judgment when Jesus, the son of Mary, will descend, and the leader of them will ask him to lead the prayer, but Jesus declines, saying: “No, Verily, among you Allah has made leaders for others and He has bestowed his bounty upon them.
From a hadith in Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (volume 1, p.99), we learn that:
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Allah will bring out from concealment Mahdi
from my Family and Progeny before the Day of Judgment, even if only
one day were to remain in the life of the world, and he will spread on
this earth justice, and equity and eradicate tyranny and oppression.”
This hadith states many factors, such as the belief in al-Mahdi (A.S.), that he was in concealment, and also that he will be a savior to humankind in this era.
Due to the considerable amount of traditions in Shia literature with regards to Imam al-Mahdi (A.S.), only a few significant sayings will be presented here. A hadith narrated by Abi Ghanim states that on the third day after al-Mahdi’s (A.S.) birth, Imam Hasan Askari\’s (A.S.) showed his son to some of his followers, stating, “Here is my successor and your would-be Imam! He is that very Qaim to whose reverence your heads will bow down. He will re-appear to fill the earth with blessings and justice after it will have been abounding with sins and vices.”
Another famous Shia hadith mentions Ibn Abi Dalaf as saying “I heard from Hazrat \’Ali ibn Muhammad (the 10th Imam) that he said: \’The Imam after me will be Hasan, my son, and after him his descendent the Qa\’im, who will fill the earth with justice, when it was previously filled with injustice.”
Finally, a narration from Imam Mahdi (AS) himself is as follows:
Rest assured that no one has a special relationship with Allah. Whoever denies me is not from my (community). The appearance of the Relief (al- Faraj) depends solely upon Allah. Therefore those who propose a certain time for it are liars. As to the benefit of my existence in occultation, it is like the benefit of the sun behind the clouds where the eyes do not see it. Indeed, my existence is an amnesty for inhabitants of the earth. Pray much to Allah to hasten the Relief, for therein also lies the release from your sufferings.
Types of justice
Before one can begin to discuss the justice that will be dispensed by Imam al- Mahdi (A.S.), one must know and understand what justice is. Justice can be defined in many ways: honesty, impartiality, fairness, or reasonableness. This is primarily true when it concerns the way in which people are treated or the way in which decisions are made. There are many types of justice, but this paper will only cover the following types of justice: distributive, retributive, and contributive.
Distributive justice has to do with fairly and equitably dividing up goods, services, and resources so that each member of society gets an equal share based on their need, their contribution to societal goals, the effort that they put into something such as helping others, and so forth. One must realize that depending on how one looks at a situation, will reflect in the way this principle is applied. For example, are goods and services to be distributed based on how productive one is in society or does it depend on how needy one is? Usually
Retributive justice is the type of justice that is owed to members of society. This may include such things as punishing people for a wrong that they committed, such as breaking a law. Contributive justice is concerned with what members of society owe for the common good of society. An example of this is paying religious taxes, such as Zakat and Khums.
Qur’anic demand for a just social order
Despite the advancement of technology and the enormous amount of money available amongst the rich countries of the world, poverty, hunger, oppression, injustice, and aggression on humankind still exists. The majority of mankind also feels stressed, in turmoil, and suffers depression which is all a natural result from these types of environments. Societies which practice discrimination or are prone to being influenced by hierarchical factors, such as power and money, are usually responsible for this kind of societal trouble.
With His comprehensive and encompassing knowledge, Allah (SWT) has realized that this state of affairs will come about if mankind is let on its own to practice as it wishes. Therefore, He has instructed mankind on a method by which to avoid (or resolve) this difficulty. In Sura al-Araf, verse 29, Allah (SWT) has said, “Say: “My Lord hath commanded Justice: …” (The Holy Qur’an). Mankind is therefore directed by Allah (SWT) to practice justice in all regards as by doing so it will create a proper order and a foundation for a society based on human rights.
Qur’anic directives also dictate that an Islamic government must institute a society based on the universal values of justice, equality, rights, and a just social order. A government which practices these values is ensured of peace and harmony amongst all of its members. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (SWT) states, “Surely, We have sent down the Book to you with the truth, so that you may do justice between men in the light of that which Allah has enlightened you. And do not be an advocate for the dishonest.” This is a clear instruction, not only for every Muslim, but also for the leaders of society. Imam Ja\’far Sadiq (A.S.) has also said that “in the Holy Qur\’an all the individual and collective needs of the society have been described” (al-Kafi, volume. I, p. 59).
Last, but not least, the Holy Qur’an mentions in Sura al-Hadid, verse 25, “We sent afore time our messengers with clear signs and sent down with them the Book and the balance that men may stand forth in justice; an we sent down iron which is a great strength (for protection) as well as many other benefits for mankind.” Thus does Allah (SWT) declare that an Islamic society can only be organized if a balance exists between law (the Holy Quran, power (iron), and justice (the balanced scale).
The Islamic state under al-Mahdi (A.S.)
The religion of Islam contains rules and regulations for one’s whole life. IT also contains rules for many different arenas, such as administrative, economic, punitive, and so forth. However, to implement these rules and regulations, Islam has stipulated that only jurists and pious people may govern so that rulings are issued in accordance with Divine decrees. We also know from Biharul Anwar (Volume VI, p. 60), that Imam Ali Riza (A.S.) stated:
There is no nation which is without its leader and the social structure of a society is directly concerned with the leader and that people should manage the public treasury by keeping an account of its income and expenditure, organize the society, fight against the enemies and protect the society from internal dissensions and disunity. If there is not going to be any such leader, then the nation will break up into pieces and the Divine commandments and the teachings of the Holy Prophet will be tampered with at the command of despotic ruler.
On Ghadir Khum, The Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuhahf) delivered his last words to his followers. At this time, he also spoke about Imam Mahdi (A.S.) and his reign as follows:
O people, the light of God Almighty was placed in me then Ali and from him it was passed on to his progeny until it will be delivered to the Qa’em Al-Mahdi, who will claim the truth and will restore all the lost rights…He is mature, complete, powerful and obeyed. To him is assigned the commanding of the world of creation He is the only remaining hujjah and no other hujjah will be revealed after him and truth is with him and there is no light except what is with him… He is the God-appointed leader on earth…”
These statements then confirm for us that, not only does the Islamic government need a ruler, but that in the last days, the guardianship of society will be with none other than Allah’s (SWT) appointed ruler-Imam al-Mahdi (A.S.). We also know that justice cannot be maintained in a society without the existence of a government or a qualified ruler.
Last, but not least, the best example of this type of government has already been evidenced in a letter from Imam Ali (A.S.) to Malik bin Harith Ashtar, the appointed Governor of Egypt in 657 A.D. and may be found in Nahjul Balagha. This letter provides detailed instructions on how to set up a government based on the moral principles of justice, fairness, and equality and without any corrupting influences such as those of favoritism, nepotism, and so forth, and is what pious Muslims can expect under the auspicious leadership of our beloved Imam Al-Mahdi (A.S.).
May Allah (SWT) hasten the advent of the promised savior and make it known to the world that he is none other than Mohammad bin AI-Hasan AI-Askari (A.S.).
source: The Scientific Committee of the International Conference of Mahdism Doctrine