This such longevity is not usual among the world’s people. These days longevity has become a common subject because these latest years and decades we have faced some specified people who are 150-250 year-old in magazines and newspapers.
In our point of view the 12th Imam′ longevity is not a problem; it is just a surprising subject.
The 12th Imam was born in Shaban 15, 256 a.h. (Arabic Calendar), which is confirmed by all the Shia scientists and most Sunni scientists (Specifically by followers of the 4 Caliphs′ ideology). This article examines this subject from Shia’s books by considering verses and traditions (Ravayats) from Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and also it is considering this subject in aspect of science and wisdom.
According to the ravayats, the appearance of the 12th Imam will be in end of the world who will develop justice in all over the world. He is the child of Imam Hasan Askari (11th Imam) and was born in Shaban 15 256 a.h. This fact is approved by all Shia and most Sunni scientists. The fact of this discussion is that 12th Imam as God’s last reserve on the earth has a kind of longevity by now. He has a longevity more than 1150 years.
This kind of longevity is somehow uncommon among the people around the world.
Yes; in our point of view the 12th Imam longevity is not a problem; it is just a surprising matter but Shia opponents see this surprising matter as a problem and exaggerate it by using his longevity as a reason for denying him. We are responsible to define this matter to the public to avoid the opponents’ ideas.
The history of longevity
It is a few more than 10 centuries has passed after the first time of the 12th Imam′s longevity issue that is called as a problem. From that day opponents always have exacerbated the 12th Imam longevity and the issue of “Imamate”.
Dividing the Shia books
The Shia scientists’ works particularly can be divided into two groups:
1st group are the works which written before 370 a.h.
And, 2nd group are the works which written after the above-mentioned date.
In the first, there aren’t any impression about the 12th Imam lifetime, because it was not unusual by that time because there wasn’t any question in the public′s mind.
We can name some of the works related to this era as following:
– The Basar Aldarajat by Mohammad Ebn Hasan Safar Ghomi (deceased 290 a.h.);
– Kaafi by Sheikh Koleini Razy (deceased 329 a.h.);
– Shahr Al Akhbar Fi Fazael Aeme Athar by Ghazi Noman Ebn Mohammad Tamimi Maghrebi (deceased 363 a.h.);
– And the Alghaybe by Mohammad ibn Ibrahim Noamani (known as Ibn Abi Zeinab) as Sheikh Koleini’s best student.
However the last scientist’s death is not determined but it is understandable that the reason he didn’t mention anything about the 12th Imam Longevity issue in his work was because there was not any question regarding this aspect in Islamic society and public mind, so probably because of this he didn’t mention anything. We can guess his death probably was before 375 a.h. because the longevity problem was mentioned in the end of 4th century a.h. and scientists after this time objected this problem.
What is the extreme limit to standard lifetime?
In access evidences show that the masses and scientists in the late decades of 4th A.H believed the standard lifetime to be one hundred and twenty years and the blessed lifetime of Imam Mahdi (a.s) (who is living now between Muslims) from 375 AH has crossed this limit and converted to nonstandard. From this time now among parts of people but at-least in the cantankerous there have been raised some questions about his Excellency’s longevity.
Sheikh Sadoogh was the first researcher in the field of Imam Mahdi’s (a.s) longevity.
Available documents and evidences show the first scientist who had gone through the issue of Imam Mahdi’s (a.s) longevity is “Abu Ja’far Muhammad Ibn Ali Ibn Babuyeh Ghomi known as Sheikh Sadoogh (deceased in 381 A.H). He in his book namely Kamal-Addin and Tammam-al-Nim’ah has discussed in details on this subject matter and has answered to the opponents’ questions.
He also has assigned a comprehensive chapter in the above mentioned book for “The Long Lived” (people with too long lifetime); named tens of people with more than 120 years lifetime and introduced a brief description over each one life span.
Amongst these long lived that many had been lived before Islam occurrence and a number after Islam, there have seen life spans between 120 up to 3000 years. The respectful author writes at the end of this chapter of his book:
The quotations about the people with lone lifetime in my book are not only peculiar to Shiite but our opponents also have quoted from various references endorsing them.
From Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) there is a quotation that he says:
“Everything which has happened between previous prophets’ followers will be happening between my followers too.”
Now that longevity has been seen in primitives why do some deny the Al-Qa’im (He Who Arises) of Muhammad’s descendants only for his longevity? Especially that, a plenty of true quotations have been received from Nabi Akram (PBUH) and his descendants (a.s)?!
It is highly noteworthy that late Sadoogh has reviewed this issue only through historical experiences and people with too long lifetime and has not argued for the other rationales that he could cite for.
1- Sheikh Mofid
The other scientist who has worked on Imam Mahdi’s (a.s) longevity is Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn No’man known as Shekh Mofid (336-413 AH).
He has discussed on this matter from two methodologies: firstly he entered through historical experiments and recalled many followers of the other religions having had too long lifetime; and then referring to Holy Qur’an he has cited Prophet Noah (a.s) who had lived nine hundred and fifty years amongst his people.
Another scientist in the A.H. fifth century who has argued in depth about Imam Mahdi’s (a.s) longevity is Muhammad Ibn Ali Ibn Osman Kerajeki from Tripoli (deceased in 449 A.H) and has released an independent book as “The rationales upon correctness of the longevity of Imam Owner of Time” (Arabic: البرهان على صحّة طول عمر الأمام صاحب الزمان).
The above mentioned scientist at first referring to Holy Qur’an recalls for too long life span of Prophet Noah (a.s) and Prophet Khidr (a.s) and then writes about the Devil who according to Holy Qur’an assertion has lived from Adam era or even before that time until now.
He after that cites many of the long lived people whose longevities are affirmed by the Jewish and Christians alike as well as Muslims.
3- Sheikh Tussi
The third scientist who has worked on the subject matter and made big countermeasures for answering to the questions arisen about the longevity is Muhammad Ibn Hassan Tussi (385-460 A.H).
He in his book “Algheibah” (The Occultation) has surveyed on this issue through two methodologies:
Firstly he seizes to the quotations which have been brought by the owners of “Seven The True” (Sehah-e Settah) of the Sunni about The Antichrist (Al-Dajjal) who was born in The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) time and has continued his life until his uprising at the end times.
Secondly he submits historical experiments and cites numerous the long lived in the history.
Amin al-Islam Fadl ibn Hasan Tabarsi, is a scientist from the sixth century H. Since the long life time is regarded not only in the Qur’an, such as the life of Noah and Jesus, and since historians, have mentioned historically long-lived people, so the mentioned scientist reckons longevity as an ordinary subject and that, it isn’t considered something extraordinary and it is believed that an extension of time, doesn’t exclude life.
In addition to his citation on the past two reasons, he is holding fast to the divine powers and writes:
Now, it is proved that God, would contribute some people, among prophets and others, longevity, and this action, wouldn’t be contrary to God’s power and wisdom, so, why the long life of Imam Zaman may be denied, especially that, he is a proof of God’s servants and caliph of God on earth!
Yes, the God who has given to Noah and Elias, and Jesus a long life, he is also able to give Imam Zaman a long life. This scientist then, considers the matter, longevity, as a miracle because the prophets and Imams possess miraculous powers (12) and may take advantage of it, as a matter of survival. (13)
1- Nasir Toosi
Nasir al-Din Tusi (597- 672 H) in examining the question of the longevity has made advantage of two reasons:
First, because he is holding fast to God’s power and knowledge, He says that: some who believing that God is able and wisdom, the problem of long life, would not be impossible for him.
Then, he makes use of (historical experience) reason and names some people who had a long life and are living at the moment, people like :
Khedr and Elias (from Prophets) and the antichrist and Samaritan (from atrocities).
He wrote the results of discussion as:
Now that in both sides of this issue, i.e. the prophets of God and the enemies of God, it is permissible to have a long life, why in the middle i.e. god’s popular creations, longevity is not allowed! (14)
2- Scholar Erbeli
Scholar AAli ‘bn Isa Erbeli (death 693 H) reckons at longevity as an usual phenomena and in order to prove it , firstly refers to holy Quran which confirms longevity for prophet Noah.
Then, he has adopted some narratives which according to them, Elias has the longest life among the sons of Adam. He, then, refers to the history and mentions a large number of persons with a long life who lived prior or contemporary with the Islam Prophet sa Vslm in the Arab and non-Arab.
After that, he is holding fast to God’s power, and says that longevity of Hazrat Mahdi (P) in the light of divine power is completely, possible and practical. (15)
It is noteworthy that Arbly researcher. In discussing life, is largely influenced by Amin al-Fadl ibn Hasan Tabarsi
3- Ibn Maytham Bahrani
Kamal al-Din Maytham bin Ali bin Maytham Bahrani (699-636 AH. S), believes on Mahdi longevity subject as a improbability instead of a bug and in order to eliminate the improbability, grasps on three reason:
He firstly cites (historical experience) and with reference to aged News, The Life of Hazrat Mahdi (P) and even longer life is reckoned ordinary. Then, referring to the Quran he mentions the nine hundred and fifty-year-old resident of Noah among his people. Then he refers to sunnah and mentions St. Elias and Elias, the Antichrist and Samaritan. The life of these two Prophets , the Antichrist and Samaratin life is approved by both Shia and Sunni (fryqyn).
Hasan ibn Yusuf ibn Motahar, aka The Allama Hilli (726-648 H), is of great Shia scholars in the eighth century H.(17)
The mentioned scientist, believes that the question of the life of Hazrat Mahdi (P) is not a bug, but an improbability and of course a poor.
In order to fix improbability, he presented two reasons:
First, the possibility of long life, is undoubtedly granted.
Second, long lifetime, was happened in the past history. (18)
(1) Refer to “Imam Mahdi the awaited in Nahj al-Balagha ” by Mahdi Faghih Imani. In this book the name of one hundred and two people amongst Sunni scientists have been cited who all asserted Imam Mahdi (a.s) birth day in 255 or 256 AH.
In Volume 2 of the book “The Support by Sufficiency” by Hashem Habib Al-Amidi twenty six scientists haven added to above.
(2) Persia Calendar Page 100 (cited from the book “What Does Shiite Say?” Page 287, by Ansari, Haaj Seraj).
(3) “The Description on inherited quotations about Holy Imams’ Vitues” published by Islamic Publication Institute an affiliate of Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom.
(4) Tehrani, Agha Bozorg, “Biography of Shiite Clerics”, Volume 1, Page 230, First Edition, Daar Al-Ketaab Al-Arabi, 1390 AH.
(5) “The Perfection Of The Religion And The End Of The Blessings ” pp 553-576.
(6) It is highly noteworthy that quite a number of Sunni scientists including Abu Hatam Sisitani, have written separate books about the long lived.
(7) “The Perfection Of The Religion And The End Of The Blessings ” Page 576.
(8) Sheikh Mufid, “Mozfat”, volume 3, pp 103-93, Researched by Seyed Mohammad Qazi, Printed on Millennium Sheikh Mufid Congress, first edition, in 1413 AH.
(9) This book is currently a part of second volume of “The Treasury Of The Merits “.
(10) Karajaki, Mohammad Ibn Ali Ibn Osman, ” The Treasury Of The Merits”, Vol.2, pp 114-158, Researched by Sheykh Ablullah Ni’mah, Dar Al-Zakha’er, Qom, 1410 AH.
(11) Tussi, Mohammad Ibn Hassan, “The Occultation ”, pp 113-126, Researched by Abdullad Tehrani, Ali Ahmad Naseh, The Institute of Islamic Sciences, Qom, First Edition, 1411 AH.
(12) Some Islamic Sects followers have named these actions by the Islamic Nobles as “Munificence” not miracle.
(13) Tabaressi, Amin Al-Eslam, Fazl Ibn Hassan, “The Beyond Knowing By The Guidance Flags ”, Vol.2, pp 305-310, Researched by ‘Alol B’ait, First Edition, 1417 AH.
(14) Tussi, Khajeh Nasir Al-Din, “An Abstract From Al-Mohsal (What Obtained) ”; Known as “A Review On Al-Mohsal ”, p 433, D’ar Al-Azva’, Second Edition, Lebanon, Beirut, 1405 AH.
(15) Areyli, Ali Ibn Issa, “An Exploration of Alghemah About The Imams Cognition” Vo.2, p488 up to the end, Researched by Seyed Hashem Rasuli, Elmieh, Qom, 1381 AH
(16) The rules Almram fi Ilm al-Kalam, Kamal al-Din ibn Ali ibn Maysam Maysam crisis, Page 191, under seal, first edition, Qom, 1398 AH
(17) (17) classes ush flags, sir Tehran, vol 5, p 52, 1975 the first edition Daralktab al.
(18) (18) Mnahbh al-Yaqin fi principles, Allama Hassan Bin Youssef Bin Helli holy, p 330, with R MR Ansari, first edition, 1416 AH