Imam al-Mahdi and the Universal Justice

“Allah hath promised those of you who have faith and do righteous deeds that He will surely make them succeed (the present rulers) in the earth, just as He made those who were before them succeed (others) and He will surely establish for them their religion which He hath approved for them, and will give them , and will give them in exchange safety after their fear. 






Imam al-Mahdi  and the Universal Justice

Compiled by: Ayatullah Shaheed Murtadha Mutahhari

“Allah hath promised those of you who have faith and do righteous deeds that He will surely make them succeed (the present rulers) in the earth, just as He made those who were before them succeed (others) and He will surely establish for them their religion which He hath approved for them, and will give them in exchange safety after their fear. They serve Me. They ascribe nothing as partner unto Me. And those who disbelieve; henceforth, they are the miscreants.”1

All of the divine prophets who have been sent among humanity by Allah, the Almighty, came for two essential reasons, one of which is to establish the correct relationship between a servant and his Creator or, in other words, to prevent man from worshipping other creatures except his Creator. This is summarized in the Godly saying, “There is no God but Allah.” [la ilaha illa Allah]

The second reason for the delegation of the great prophets from God is to establish fair and righteous relations between the human beings, based on justice, peace, purity, cooperation, benevolence, affection, and service to others. The Noble Qur’an has mentioned these two issues as two reasons for the prophets in the most explicit way. In relation to the first reason, about the Seal of the Prophets, the Holy Qur’an says,

 “O Prophet! Indeed, we have sent thee as a witness, as a bearer of good tidings and as a warner. And, as a summoner unto Allah by His permission, and as a radiant lamp.”2

And about the second reason, it is said in the Holy Qur’an,

“Certainly, We sent Our messengers with manifest proofs, and revealed with them sent down with them the Scripture and the Balance, so that mankind may maintain justice; and We sent down iron, wherein is mighty power and many uses for mankind, and so that Allah may know those who help Him and His messenger, thought unseen. Indeed, Allah is Strong, Almighty.”3

See how explicitly the Qur’an states the favor of the prophets and even their mission to establish justice among mankind? In this verse, it says: we sent our messengers with clear reason and with them we sent the Scripture, commandments and writings with a balance (which means just rules and regulations). What for?

 “… So that mankind may maintain justice.”4

So, all individuals behave justly and the principles of justice are established among mankind. Therefore, the issue of establishing justice was the main and general aim of all the prophets. In other words, according to the exact sayings of the Holy Qur’an, the prophets came and had a mission and a message which was Justice.

The second matter which I must mention here is this: the issue of justice (that is the universal justice and common justice not the relative or individual justice)—by justice we mean that there will come a day in this world for mankind when all traces of tyranny, oppression, discrimination, war, hatred, bloodshed or exploitation and their tools such as lies, hypocrisy and deception will ultimately be nonexistent. Will man ever see this day? Is this only a wish that will never come true? Is it even possible for some who does not have a spiritual disposition to say: I do not deny the universal justice, I am not a supporter of widespread oppression as the basis for our world but I believe that our world is so ominous, shallow and gloomy that there will never be a place for universal or true justice, peace, purity or true humanity? There will never be a day that human beings will actually live together in peace. The world is the place of darkness and oppression, all the oppression will be compensated in the next world. Justice only belongs to the next world.

This idea exists among non-Muslims and people of other religions. One of the main advantages of Islamic belief (and especially in the eyes of the Shi‘ahs in relation to Islam) is: do not be pessimistic. The age of war and fighting, the age of moral corruption and the age of darkness are temporary. The final outcome is luminosity and justice. Even if this teaching is present in other doctrines, it is not as certain and clear as it is in the Shi‘ah doctrine.

Another matter regarding the future of man in this world is goodness, death of oppression and the advent of justice. If man were to contemplate the Qur’an, he would see that the Qur’an emphasizes and confirms this matter and also gives glad tidings about the future of the world. There are numerous verses in this regard one of which is the verse which I recited at the beginning of my speech,

“Allah hath promised those of you who have faith and do righteous deeds that He will surely make them succeed (the present rulers) in the earth, just as He made those who were before them succeed (others) and He will surely establish for them their religion which He hath approved for them, and will give them in exchange safety after their fear. They serve Me. They ascribe no thing as partner unto Me. And those who disbelieve; henceforth, they are the miscreants.”5

It has been promised to the faithful and the people whose deeds are righteous and admirable that the end of the world is in their hands. The one who will finally rule the world is the divine religions, spirituality and “There is no God but Allah.” [la ilaha illa Allah]. Materialism and material worshipping and selfishness will be destroyed. The end of the world is security,

 “And that He will give them in exchange safety after their fear.”6

The world’s destiny is divine unity to all its degrees

Therefore, we used two topics from the Holy Qur’an: firstly, that the main reasons for the existence of prophets are two: divine unity [tawhid] and the establishment of justice. The first reason is related to man’s relationship with God and the second is related to the relationship of man with his kind.

The issue of justice is not just a dream or a wish, it is a reality that the world is going towards; it is the divine custom; God will eventually dominate justice over this world and man will rule over this world for centuries and centuries (which we do not know how long this could be. Maybe a million, maybe ten millions or even one hundred million years), but a mature and true human being, in whom darkness and oppression is present today, does not exist.

My discussion is about this topic: will universal justice be established in this world? I will especially discuss one aspect that is: on what basis does Islam claim that universal justice will be established in the world?

For this I must explain three subjects; the first is, ‘What is justice?’ Second, ‘Is there an inclination towards justice in man or do tendencies toward justice essentially not exist in the human nature? Is it true that any time justice is given to man it has been done so by force and imposed upon him? Can it be possible for man to acquire justice without his own consent and desire?’ And the third is, ‘Is justice practical or not? And if it was to become practical, what mean would be required to make it possible?’

Definition of justice

The first subject “What is justice?” does not really need defining. Human beings are, more or less, familiar with oppression. They know discrimination. Justice is the opposite of oppression. It is the opposite of discrimination and, in other words, human beings will find eligibilities on the basis of their creation and their activities and any talents they show from themselves. Justice consists of eligibility and the right which is given to any human as a reason for his creation and what he has obtained as a result of his deeds and activities.

It is the opposite point to oppression. One will not get something he does not qualify for and it will be taken away from him.

It is the opposite of discrimination so when we have two people of equal state, one is not given a privilege while the other is withheld from it. But, at the same time, in the olden days, there were people who essentially denied justice. This included the ancient Greek philosophers until the European ages, who believe that justice basically has no meaning. Justice is equal to force. Justice means what the law has dictated, and therefore justice is ultimately decided by force.

I do not want to discuss this issue because then I will not be able to finish my discussion. This saying is rejected. Justice itself is real because “entitlement” is real. How is entitlement real? Entitlement has taken form the text of creation because creation is real. Any creature in the textual content of creation has some merits and qualities. As a result of his deeds and activities, man creates certain eligibilities. And the justice defined as giving the right to its rightful owner, will be meaningful. Those sayings are delusive words.

Is justice-seeking instinctive?

The second part of my talk that needs further explaining is, ‘Is there an instinct in the human nature which seeks justice?’ Man desires something according to his nature and essence. This means that he has no justification for those desires apart from his physical and spiritual structure. For example, when you participated in this respectful session and saw these lovely writings, you see the “la ilaha illallah” in the middle, “‘aliyyun waliyullah” on the left and a black star as a symbol of the impeccablity of Fatimah al-Zahra’, the name of the rest of the Twelve Infallibles, all the Qur’anic verses that are used as the Islamic slogans, Imam al-Husayn’s saying, lovely caligraphy, you enjoy them all and like them.

Why? Who forced you to like it? Nobody has forced you. You like it because it is beautiful. A power is placed in any human nature that makes him praise whatever beauty he comes across. This no longer needs a law to be set or a force to be imposed on him. This is in the human nature. They call such things affairs that exist in the human nature. Loving science, knowledge and lots of other things are in the human nature. This is the desire for justice, meaning the desire and interest to be just even if it has no benefit for man. Or the desire of man himself to be just as well as society to be just, not considering any benefits that man may receive from justice, among man’s ideals? Is there such a thing in man’s nature or not?

The theory of Nietzsche and Machiavelli

Some believe that such power and force does not essentially exist in human nature. The majority of European philosophers believe this and it is this idea of these philosophers which has set the world on fire. They say: justice is the innovation of the wretched people. The weak and the wretched people created this word when they confronted the powerful. Because they did not have the power to fight the powerful, they said justice is good, humans must be just. They believed that this was all nonsense and that if this supporter of justice became powerful, he would do the same things the other powerful people do.

The famous German philosopher, Nietzsche says: So many times it happened that I laughed when I heard the weak talking of justice and justice seeking. When I look, I see that they say justice because they have no claws. I say to them: Oh you reckless, if you had claws, you would never say such words. These philosophers say that man basically has no faith and believes in justice.

Those who do not believe in justice to be something in the human nature can be divided into two groups: the group who claims that man should not go after justice even as a dream, one must go after power and force. Justice is nonsense. You should not even dream about it. They use an expression which goes along with our definition. The brief version of this expression is: two knots of horn are preferred to a meter of tail, where the horn represents power and the tail represents justice. What is justice? Go after power. Nietzsche and Machiavelli are from this group.

The view of Bertrand Russel

This, however, is not what other groups believe. They say: no, one must go after justice but not because justice is ideal but because one’s interest lies in justice for all. This is the belief of Bertrand Russel. With this belief, he is even a philanthropist. He has no choice to say anything else because this is what his philosophy requires. He says: on the basis of his nature, man has been created as a one who seeks that which is in his benefit. So what must be done in order for justice to be established? Must we order man to demand for justice?! If this cannot be imposed and justice seeking is not in his nature, then how can we force mankind to seek justice? Something else can however be carried out to enhance man’s wisdom, knowledge and science so that a point is reached where he can be told: Man! It is true that benefit is the only authoritative thing and no one or thing can lead you anywhere unless you are being directed to a place which leads you to your benefits. But, the interest of one lies in the establishment of justice for all.

If there is no justice for all, one’s interest cannot be obtained. It is true that, on the basis of your nature, you want to assault your neighbour but when you assault him, he will assault you and you, instead of gaining more benefits, will gain fewer benefits. So, start thinking and calculate. You will then realize that your interests, too, lie in justice.

They have the idea of justice in the world but regard the way to approach justice, strengthening the mind by science and knowledge. That is, familiarize man with the fact that the interests of an individual lie in the public interest.

Evaluation of this theory

It is also very clear that this view is not practical because it only applies to those who do not have much power. It may apply to me. I am a powerless individual. I am afraid of my neighbors and I see my neighbor has a lot more power than I have. I become just because of the fear from my neighbor’s power. However, from the instant I gain power, I will no longer have any fear from my neighbor and I will fully be certain that if I trample him, there will be no power to confront me. How could I then be just? Because you sir, say that man is benefit-seeking. Knowledge says be just for the sake of your interest and that is when I see power in front of me. But, when I see no power in front of me, how can I be just? And, thus, the philosophy of Bertrand Russel (on the contrary to all his philanthropical slogans) gives the right to all the powerful, who have no fear of the powerless, to be as oppressive as they want to be.

The Marxist view

We have a third group who can be included with the second group. This group says: justice is practical but not through man. Man cannot bring about justice. It is neither possible to train man in a way that he would truly seek justice from the bottom of his heart. Nor is it possible to strengthen man’s wisdom to an extent that he sees his interests in justice. Justice can automatically be sought by machines. Justice should not be demanded from economical instruments or in a more correct definition: it should not be desired for. It is not your business. It is a lie if you think you can became a justice-seeker. It is also a lie if you think your wisdom will one day lead you to justice.

However, machines will automatically draw man towards justice. The transition that economical and production instruments will go through (according to calculations they did for themselves which mostly came out wrong) will reach a capitalist world. A capitalist world will involuntarily end in socialism. In a socialist world, justice will naturally and neccesserily be brought about, whether you want it or not. You are not the element of justice enforcement. So, do not calculate if my wisdom will draw me to justice or not? Or will my training draw me justice? He says: all these are lies.

The Islamic view

There is, however, a third opinion here that says: this is just pessimism towards nature and human essence. If today you see man running away from justice, it is because he has not yet reached the perfection stage. Justice does exist in the human nature. If man is trained well, if he gets placed under the hands of a perfect coach, he will reach a stage where he will truly seeks justice. He would truly prefer public justice to his personal interests and would love justice as he loves beauty. Justice can be considered as a kind of rational beauty and not a perceivable one.

In our ideology, which is a religious ideology, there is a reason for this statement; that is, when you say man is not justice-seeking because of his nature and justice must be imposed on him by force or when you say his wisdom should reach a stage where he is able to see his interests in a public justice or when you say evolution of production tools will automatically bring about justice, we can show you people who were just and justice-seeking when these were not called for in their interests. Despite their personal interests, justice was their ideal and wish. They loved justice and sacrificed themselves in the way of justice. They are examples of perfect humans in the previous ages. These examples show that it is possible to put man in the path of justice so he can become like those examples before him. Now if he did not reach that stage, he could at least be one little example of it.

‘Ali ibn Abi Talib himself is an example that rejects all these philosophies; ‘Ali and those raised by ‘Ali and other human beings who have existed in all the ages. Now, when we bring ‘Ali as an example, it may cross one’s mind that ‘Ali was an exceptional person. No, there is no such thing. Even now there are a lot of people among the true pious ones who truly love justice. Their essence is bonded with justice and what a bond that is! Man will also become like this in the future.

Most of the human individuals think that the issue of the Imam of the Time’s reappearance is a matter that equals the world’s decline and the return of man to the Age of Ignorance [jahiliyyah]. It is actually the opposite. It is the intellectual, moral and scientific upgrading for man according to all the evidents and reasonings we have obtained from religion. The same religion that has talked about the topic of the Imam of the Time’s reappearance has also made mention of this.

It is in the “Usul al-Kafi” that when the Imam of the Time reappears, Allah will give privilege to human individuals and the wisdom of individuals will enhance. Their intellect and deeds will also increase. When his holy being will reappear, there will no longer be wolf and sheep relation in the world. Even wolves will live at peace and purity with one another. Which wolves? Is it the wolves that live in the desert or the human-figured wolves? This means wolves will no longer have a wolfish nature.

Before I read a part of the other numerous indications of the situations in the time of the Imam for you, I must raise a point:

The issue of the Imam’s lifetime

When the topic of the Imam of the Time is raised, most people say: can a human live one thousand and two hundred years? This is against natural laws. They think that all affairs taking place in this world are fully in accordance with the normal laws of nature (laws recognized by the knowledge man has today). Basically, all the big changes that have taken place in the life’s history and the lives of living creatures (including plants and animals) are all abnormal changes. According to which biological principle did the first embryo on earth form? With what natural law does the first life on earth match? According to the scientific theories today, it is scientifically definite that nearly forty billion years have passed from the birth of the Earth.

Billions of years ago, our earth was a red hot planet and it was impossible for any living creature to live on it. According to scientific estimations, millions of years passed until the first creature appeared on the Earth. Science today agrees that a living creature emerges from a living creature and it cannot be proven that a living creature emerged from a non-living creature. Science has yet not been able to answer this question: how did the first creature appear on earth? That is to say, how did the first living embryo came into existence on the earth?

They say: when the first embryo and first cell appeared, they evolve and reach a stage where it branches: the vegetation branch and the animal branch; the vegetation branch with certain characteristics and the animal branch with certain characteristics where they are against and complementary to one another in some aspects.

The strange thing is: if there was no vegetation, would there be no animal? And if there were no animals, would there be no vegetation, especially taking into consideration the need to take up and pass out gasses existent in the air?

Science has still not been able to prove that how the stage of change in life and existence appears and takes place? Also, science has not yet been able to rationalize the other stages in the appearance of man himself, a creature with such power, wisdom and will power.

Is the issue of revelations a common affair? Is the issue of man reaching a stage where he can get orders from beyond nature any less than the issue of one living for one thousand and three hundred years? This is basically a normal and common issue. It is something that man is now going after and there may even be a natural law for it. Humans today are attempting to create methods (with certain drugs or certain formulas) to extend man’s lifespan.

Nobody can say whether or not this is the natural law for man to live one hundred, two hundred or five hundred years. It is true that the human body cells have a certain life cycle, but this is when the situation is limited. Maybe one day, a method will be discovered that is very simple yet increases man’s life by five hundred years or more.

This is not something that one can doubt. Allah, the Almighty, has always shown that when the world’s status reaches a certain stage, a sudden change will take place in a way as if a hand had come out of the invisible and intervened in the situation in such a way that was not at all possible to predict using natural laws. Therefore, this topic has no ambiguity that one needs to think about or, God-forbid, even doubt. Religion has been created for the very purpose of opening man’s eyes and removing all the barriers which obstruct the progression of man’s thought. What will happen in that age, the age of evolution of science, wisdom, morals and the society? I will explain this to you in an example.

The characteristics of Imam al-Mahdi’s age

As a common opinion among Shi‘ah and Sunni scholars, this sentence has been narrated by the Prophet and no one has any doubt that the Prophet has said, “If there is only one day left of the world, Allah will make that day long so a man from my children appears.”

Which means if we assume there is only one day left of the world, Allah will make that day long so al-Mahdi from my children appears. The point is that this is a definite divine decree and if we assume only one day is left of the world, the task will definitely be carried out.

Some of our friends were surprised to find that our brother from Hijaz, Mr. Shaykh Khalil al-Rahman7, who always speaks of ‘awaiting the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi,’ is not a Shi‘ah? How is it that he is awaiting this reappearance? Most of us probably believe this out of habit or our geographical locations but he spoke of this out of faith and belief. As I said, this matter is not specific to the Shi‘ahs. The Sunnis also believe in this and it has been repeated in their sources many times.

Now observe how clearly the Prophet sees that day and the age of man’s perfection. He says, “Al-Mahdi will come at a time when there are strong disagreements among my nation and when constant earthquakes occur.”

Note: By earthquakes we do not mean those which result from tectonic stress.

Then he will fill the world with justice and fairness after it has been filled with oppression and tyranny.

When this container has been filled with oppression and tyranny, he will fill the world with justice and fairness.

Both Allah and those beings in the skies and the people on earth are pleased with him. They say, “Praise be to Allah, who removed the evil of these oppressions from us.” He then says, “He will divide wealth in the correct way.”8

The companions asked, “Oh Messenger of Allah! What do you mean in the correct way?” He said, “He will divide it fairly and equally. And Allah will fill the hearts of the Islamic nation with opulence (spiritual wealth).”

That means do not think that this opulence and wealth is the same as the materialistic wealth. The hearts will be filled with spiritual wealth. Poverty, need, inferiority, misery, hatred, jealousy and everything else will be removed from the face of the Earth. In Nahj al-Balaghah, Imam ‘Ali says, “Till war wages among you with full force, showing forth its teeth, with udders full of milk, milking it is sweet but it has a bitter outcome.”

He predicts that before the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi, there will be strange tumults, massive and dangerous wars in the world. He says, “War will stand on its feet, show its teeth like a predator. It will show the milk in its breasts which means the combative and instigators believe that the war will be to their advantage. However, they do not know that the end of the world is to their disadvantage.”

“Milking it is sweet but, the outcome is bitter.” “Beware, it will be tomorrow and the tomorrow will come soon with things which you do not know.”

“Be informed that tomorrow is pregnant with things that you cannot predict or even be familiar with. But know that it is there and tomorrow will bring it with itself.” “The Man in power, not from this crowd, will take to task all those were formerly appointed for their ill deeds.”

The first thing the divine ruler will do is: he will catch the rulers and agents one by one and ameliorate his agents and the world will be amended. “And the earth will pour forth its eternal treasures.”

The earth will give out parts of its heart, which means the earth will give out whatever blessings it has inside it including any minor talents that you can imagine. It will give out everything. It will give out whatever it has begrudged till today. “And fling before him easily her keys.”

The earth will come like a surrendered servant and hand over its keys to his authority (these are all paraphrases and expressions). It means there will be no secrets in the nature that does not get exposed in that time, “He will show you the just way of behaviour.”

He will then show you what true justice means. He would show you that all the utterances about freedom and human rights posters were all lies. All the utterances about peace were lies; they were all dissent and selling barely pretending its wheat. “And he will revive the Qur’an and the Sunnah which have become lifeless (among people).”

He would revive the rules of the Scripture and customs which have been abandoned or destroyed. He also says, “If al-Qa’im rises, he will rule with justice.”

Each of the infallible Imams have a title; for example, the title of ‘Ali is: ‘Ali al-Murtada; Imam al-Hassan: al-Hassan al-Mujtaba; Imam al-Husayn: Sayyid al-Shuhada; and the rest of the Imams: al-Sajjad; al-Baqir; al-Sadiq; al-Kazim; al-Rida; al-Taqi; al-Naqi; al-Zaki, al-‘Askari. The Imam of the Time has title special to him, a title which has been taken from the concept of rising; the one who will rise in the world: al-Qa’im.

We basically know Imam Mahdi by rising and justice. Every Imam is known by a feature. This Imam is recognised with rising, “There will no longer be any cruelty and oppression.”

All the routes, the routes on earth, sea and sky will become safe because the source of all those insecurities were frustrations and injustices. When justice is brought about, there will no longer be any reasons for insecurities because the human nature has a tendency to seek justice.

“The earth will bring about all its blessings.” “Do you know what the people are upset with in those says? They are upset only because they want to give out charity and be of help but they cannot find a needy person. There will not be a single poor on the earth.” And about security, he says, “A weak old woman will travel from the east to the west of the world without any trouble and difficulty.”9

A lot has been said about justice: about peace and tranquility; about freedom and security; fair division of wealth and abundance of fruits and tools—tools for farming, etc. Corruption will disappear and man will have hatred towards lying, backbiting, false accusations and oppression.

Upon which philosophy is this based? Islam says that the future of man is justice but it does not say that this final justice concludes in that which man’s thought leads him to; i.e. that his interests lie in the safeguarding of other people’s interests. No, [at that time] justice will be very special to mankind object of worship. This means that his spirit will be upgraded, his training will be completed and there will not be anything but global justice on the basis of faith, worshipping of God and knowledge of God and finally the creation of a government based on the Qur’an.

We Muslims are lucky that, contrary to all the pessimism towards humanity which has been created in the western world, we are optimistic to man’s future. Russell says in his book entitled, “New Hopes”, “Today, majority of scientists have lost hope in man and believe that science has reached a stage that will soon cause man’s destruction.” He says, “One of these people is Eienstein. Eienstein believes that man is not far from the grave he has digged for himself.”

Man has reached a stage that pressing several buttons is equal to the earth’s destruction. And if we truly do not believe in God and his hidden assistance and if the reassurance that the Qur’an gives about man’s future had not made us certain then that would mean that they are right. There has not been a day when horrific destructive tools of great strength had not been built. Look at how much man’s destructive ability has multiplied since twenty years ago, after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

We have reached a stage when we constantly hear that there are no longer winners and losers in this world. If a Third World war were to take place, then it would no longer be a question of whether America, Russia or China wins. If a Third World war takes place, the main loser will be the earth and the human race. There are no winners.

We believe that these falls had taken place in the past as well. The divine decree is above all these,
“And you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, whereat He saved you from it.”10
We have been told, “The best of deeds is awaiting the reappearance.” This optimism and awaiting the reappearance generally have superiority over all our other deeds. Why? Because, this is faith at its highest level of excellence.
O Allah! Turn us into true waiters of Imam Mahdi (may Allah expedite his glorious advent).
O Allah! Grant us the eligibility to feel the rightful government.
Oh Allah! We ardently desire that in (his) kind, just and fair period Thou should reactivate Islam and stimulate its followers and humble and humiliate the impostors. Include us among those who invite people unto Thy obedience and lead them to Thy approved path.


1. Surat al-Nur 24:55.
2. Surat al-Ahzab 33:45-46.
3. Surat al-Hadid 57:25.
4. Surat al-Hadid 57:25.
5. Surat al-Nur 24:55.
6. Surat al-Nur 24:55.
7. One of the Qur’an recitors who was invited by the Husayniyyah Irshad.
8. A‘lam al-Wara, p. 401.
9. Nahj al-Balaghah, sermon 138.
10. Surat Al ‘Imran 3:103.

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