Common purposes of Imam al-Ḥusayn and Imam al-Mahdi

Common purposes of Imam al-Ḥusayn and Imam al-Mahdi


In Shiite culture, two uprisings, in which the leaders of both are infallible Imams and from the prophet`s offspring, have an outstanding and prominent status: One of them is “Imam Hussain`s uprising” which occurred in 61 A.H, and the other one is “the universal revolution of Imam Mahdi” which will take place in the future.

There is an inseparable link between these two uprisings in a way that each one completes the other and is in line with that. The most important feature of both uprisings is that each one forms a “Right” army against the “Wrong” one. Both uprisings consist of members of the “Right” army, who oppose the “Wrong” one like the agents of corruption, tyrants, atheists, and wealth lovers. Both of them take place to rectify corrupt and destroyed society and their most important aim is to revive transcendent religious and humane teachings of Allah, and to eradicate the obstacles that existed against the human`s growth. The religious and political message of these two uprisings is to fight against the tyrant and corrupt governments and not to put up with the despots and dictators; moreover, their main goal is delivering human society to transcendence and ultimate perfection which is nothing but to reach servitude and nearness to Allah; and correcting people`s immoral, and unpleasant characters and behaviors.

It can be said that both uprisings are in continuation of the prophets and righteous people`s revolutions over history; moreover, they themselves were the origin and the source of many other Right-seeking and Wrong-fighting uprisings. In the Shiite`s view, the ultimate battle between the Right (light, faith, and goodness) and the Wrong (infidelity, chaos, and evils) will take place in the advent of Imam Mahdi's era by the time he will rise. Many nations and religions wait for this universal and comprehensive uprising. The promise of this ultimate battle between the Wrong and the Right, which would lead to human salvation is mentioned in all of the Divine books and religions. Thus, a brief study of links between the two uprisings – that are listed here - would be useful to the right-seeking people:


1. Fighting against cruelty and tyranny:

Imam Hussain considers Yazid`s government a cause of destroying the religion and states,

«وَ عَلَى‏ الْإِسْلَامِ‏ السَّلَامُ‏ إِذْ قَدْ بُلِيَتِ الْأُمَّةُ بِرَاعٍ مِثْلِ يَزِيدَ»[1]

When the nation gets caught by a leader like Yazid, one must say goodbye to Islam. [Islam will be destroyed.]

 This is why the Imam strongly says,

 «مِثْلِی لَا یُبَایِعُ مِثْلَهُ»[2]

Someone like me will not pay allegiance to someone like him.

 By his martyrdom, Imam Hussain caused the Umayyad government to be disgraced and consequently overthrown. Likewise, the uprising of Imam Mahdi will cause all the dictator governments to be disgraced and their power to become unstable. As regards to this matter, Imam Hussain states,

«یُظْهِرُ اللَّهُ قائِمَنا فَینْتَقِمُ مِنَ الظَّالِمینَ»[3]

Our Upriser will rise and will take revenge from the tyrants.

It is recited in Nudbah supplication (which is one of the major Shiite prayers about Imam Mahdi and his occultation.),

«أيْنَ‏ قاصِمُ‏ شَوْكَةِ الْمُعْتَدينَ، أيْنَ هادِمُ أبْنِيَةِ الشِّرْكِ وَالنِّفاقِ، أيْنَ مُبيدُ أهْلِ الْفُسُوقِ وَالْعِصْيانِ وَالطُّغْيانِ ... أيْنَ مُبيدُ الْعُتاةِ وَالْمَرَدَةِ»[4]

Where is the one who overwhelms the transgressors` glory? Where is the one who destroys the buildings of polytheism and hypocrisy? Where is the terminator of the people of guilt, vice, and rebellion? Where is the terminator of the rebels and disobedient?

In fact, just as the Prophet, Imam Ali, and Imam Hussain respectively fought with Abū Sufyān, Muāwiya, and Yazīd, Imam Mahdi will fight with Sufyānī who is the offspring of Abū Sufyān for the sake of faith to Allah, truth, and justice.


2. Seeking reformation

Both Imam usay’s uprising and Imam Mahdi`s revolution are aimed to reform the society. Related to this issue, Imam Hussain states,

«انِّي لَمْ اَخْرُجْ اَشِراً وَ لا بَطِراً ولا مُفْسِداً وَ لاظالِماً، وَ اِنَّما خَرَجْتُ لِطَلَبِ الِاصلاحِ فِي اُمةِ جَدِّي محمد اُريدُ اَنْ آمُرَ بِالْمَعْروفِ و اَنْهي عَنِ المُنْكَرِ و اَسيرَ بِسيرةِ جَدِّي محمد وَ اَبي عَليِّ بنِ‌ اَبِي‌ طالِبٍ»[5]

"I did not move because of joy or arrogance neither for making corruption or cruelty, rather I moved to reform my grandfather`s nation (whose name is) Muhammad. I am going to enjoin the good and prohibit the evil, I want to act in the way of my grandfather, Muhammad, and my father, Ali bin Abī Tālib.

With respect to reforming the role of Imam Mahdi, it is narrated from the prophet who stated,

 «لِيُصلِح الاُمَّةَ بعدَ فَسادِها»[6]

By recourse to Imam Mahdi, Allah will amend this nation after its corruption.


3. Awakening the nation

The aim of Imam Hussain mentioned in Arba'īn supplication is as follows,

«وَ بَذَلَ مُهْجَتَهُ فِيكَ لِيَسْتَنْقِذَ عِبَادَكَ مِن الْجَهَالَةِ و حَيرةِ الضَّلَالَة»[7]

He sacrificed his blood for the sake of You, to rescue your worshippers from ignorance and bewilderment of misguidance.

As the same, Imam Mahdi`s goal is to rescue people from mental slavery and to free them from the chains of captivity. It is narrated from the Prophet, regarding Imam Mahdi`s motivation for rising to have said,

«...لِیُصلِح الاُمةُ بَعدَ فسادِها»[8]

“…to reform the nation after its corruption.


4. Restoring religion`s honor

Honor is the basis of Imam Hussain and Imam Mahdi`s motion and it can be the basis of a strategic policy for making a religious government at an international level. Imam Hussain stated on Āshūrā day:

«... هَيْهَاتَ مِنَّا الذِّلَّةُ يَأْبَى اللَّهُ ذَلِكَ لَنَا وَ رَسُولُهُ وَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَ حُجُورٌ طَابَتْ وَ طَهُرَتْ وَ أُنُوفٌ حَمِيَّةٌ وَ نُفُوسٌ أَبِيَّةٌ مِنْ أَنْ نُؤْثِرَ طَاعَةَ اللِّئَامِ عَلَى مَصَارِعِ الْكِرَامِ»[9]

…humiliation is far from us. Allah and His Prophet and the believers and pure intellects and great men of religious zeal deny accepting that for us. They do not let us prefer the obedience of the humble to an honorable death.

Again, Imam Hussain stated,

«موتٌ في عِزٍّ خيرٌ من حياةٍ في ذُلٍّ»[10]

Dying in an honorable way is better than living in humiliation.

Religious government as a government that sets the ground for the dignified Mahdist government, avoids any relation or negotiation with someone or something in which there is a probability of humiliation since the universal government of Imam Mahdi is introduced as the one that only gives honor to the religion. In Eftitāh supplication, it is recited,

«اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّا نَرْغَبُ إِلَيْكَ فِي دَوْلَةٍ كَرِيمَةٍ تُعِزُّ بِهَا الْإِسْلَامَ‏ وَأَهْلَهُ‏ وَ تُذِلُّ بِهَا النِّفَاقَ وَ أَهْلَهُ»[11]

O Allah! We are eager towards You to find the dignified government by which You will honor Islam and the Muslims and dishonor hypocrisy and its people.


5. True revival of the prophet`s way:

Imam Hussain`s era was the period of time that Islam was in isolation. He, in a letter which he sent to Basra and meanwhile invited the heads of their tribes to help him, warned them about adding false innovations into Islam and abandoning the Prophet`s sunnah and stated,

«اَنَا اَدْعُوكُمْ اِلي كِتابِ الله وَ سُنَّةِ نَبِيِّه فَاِنَّ الْسُنَّةَ قَدْ اُميتَتْ وَ اِنَّ الْبِدْعَةَ قَدْ اُحْيِيَتْ»[12]

I invite you to Allah`s Book and His Prophet`s way. Indeed, the Prophet`s way is destroyed and (false) innovations are revived.

In Imam of the age`s occultation period, the Prophet`s religion and his sunnah will be forgotten too and he will bring the Quran and the Prophet`s true religion back into use. According to some narrations from Imam Ali the status of the Quran and the Prophet`s religion, before and after the advent of Imam Mahdi is clearly introduced. We read in one of those narrations,

«يَعْطِفُ اَلْهَوَى عَلَى اَلْهُدَى إِذَا عَطَفُوا اَلْهُدَى عَلَى اَلْهَوَى وَ يَعْطِفُ اَلرَّأْيَ عَلَى اَلْقُرْآنِ إِذَا عَطَفُوا اَلْقُرْآنَ عَلَى اَلرَّأْيِ... فَيُرِيكُمْ كَيْفَ عَدْلُ اَلسِّيرَةِ وَ يُحْيِي مَيِّتَ اَلْكِتَابِ وَ اَلسُّنَّةِ»[13]

“(When Imam Mahdi rises,) he will change worldly desires into heavenly guidance after they had altered salvation into worldly desires; and he will change the ideas based on the Quran after they had made the Quran follow their ideas… then he (Mahdi) will show you how the fair method of governing is; and he will revive what have been abandoned from the Book and the Prophet`s sunnah.


The final word:

The most important aspects of Ashūrā are in its teachings, examples, comprehensive, and perpetual messages. These Islamic teachings have always been life-giving, motivator, effective, and lasting. Although Imam Ḥusayn's uprising took place in a special time and place, its effects are vast, lasting; and beyond time and place. The slogan,

«کُلُّ یَومٍ عاشورا و کُلُّ أرضٍ کَربَلا»

Every day is Ashūrā and every place is Karbalā” offers a role model and program to all nations and cultures that seek the right and justice. Imam Hussain`s epic means denying humiliation and self-respect; battling with cruelty, revealing the real face of the tyrant, seeking the right; inviting people to Imams` leadership; observing justice, and equation; giving value to freedom and nobility; leading to the revival of Islamic religion and traditions, disgracing the wrong, fighting with Satanic innovations; sustaining the right and justice; enjoining to good and prohibiting the evil, reforming the society, fighting against corruption; showing the necessity of sacrificing for the sake of belief and idea, demonstrate the necessity of forming a religious government, clarifying the right of the Household of the Prophet which was taken away of them, overthrowing the dictatorship, making a positive wave in history, trying to reform the corrupt society, and so on.

Imam Hussain and Yazīd in Karbalā land fought with each other and although seemingly Yazīd won the battle, but in fact, ultimately Imam Hussain conquered and his thought and message remained as a heritage for all the nations throughout the human history. He sacrificed his life for the sake of this holy way.

Surprisingly, Imam Hussain's doctrine and idea; and his thought and message will be seen in Imam Mahdi`s rising. It means that the role model of the universal rising of Imam Mahdi is the same as the rising of Imam Hussain; and Imam Mahdi's programs and goals will come to reality at the time of his advent. The two risings have many aspects in common and in fact, they share the goals, programs, and demands. Some of these were fulfilled in Āshūrā, but all of them will come true at the time of Imam Mahdi's advent and in the light of his universal rising.

Some of these common aspects are: Seeking the Right and fighting with the Wrong, looking for justice and applying it, destroying tyrant governments; guiding and rescuing people; reforming and making positive changes, reviving transcendent religious teachings and ultimately; forming a government and political leadership for the infallible Imams.

Although Imam Hussain`s rising had a special and effective role in delivering these goals and programs as everlasting universal messages and lessons, but these goals will be fulfilled completely by Imam Mahdi. At that time, the seeds planted in the event of Karbala will bear fruit and the world will be filled with justice. Moreover, the goals of all Divine prophets will be fulfilled and human beings will experience the real peace, security, and salvation.

A considerable point is that the two risings of the two Imams also share the same place in starting and ending their mission that are Mecca and Kūfa. Imam Hussain started his rising from Mecca; after leaving Medina, he entered Mecca and announced his rising next to Ka`ba and then set out to Kūfa. Likewise, according to narrations, Imam Mahdi, after his advent in Mecca, will invite people to pay allegiance to him and then will start his reforming movements; then, after finishing the rising and establishing justice in the world, he will set the base of his government in Kūfa. As Imam Bāqir stated,

«یَخرِجُ مِن مَکّه هُو و مَن مَعَه الثلاثَ مِاَة وَ بِضعَةَ عَشَر یُبایِعُونَه بَینَ الرُّکنِ وَالمَقام»[14]

Imam Mahdi and three hundred of his companions will rise from Mecca and tens of people will pay allegiance to him al-Rukn and al-Maqām (which are two places in Masjid al-Harām in Mecca).


Source:  The Final Hope, October 2020, Issue no. 3

The Promised Mahdi Cultural Foundation


[1] Bihār al-Anwār, vol.1, p. 184.

[2] Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 44, p. 325.

[3] Ithbāt al-Hudā, vol. 3, p. 569.

[4] See Mafātīh al-Jinān, Nudba Supplication

[5] Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 44, p. 329.

[6] Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 51, p. 83.

[7] Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 101, p. 331.

[8] Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 51, p. 83.

[9] Khārazmī Maqtal, vol. 2, p. 7; Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 45, p. 83.

[10] Bihār al Anwār, vol. 44, p. 192.

[11] See Mafātīh al Jinān.

[12] Tabarī History, vol. 4, p. 265.

[13] See Nahj al-Balāgha, 138th Sermon.

[14] Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 52, p. 225.