Justice and the Theory of Imam Mahdi ('af)
Hadji Haidar, Shaykh Hamid. Living Islam. Vol.l, No.1 , September 2005 Truth, justice, virtue, good life and similar terms express the firm and continuous ambition of human beings in history. Since these general values are capable of interpretation on the basis of the worldview affirmed by interpreters, there are not only various, but also conflicting, views as to what the terms truth, justice, virtue, and good life imply. Hence, human beings have encountered different doctrines, each of which asserts to deliver the correct, or a convincing, interpretation of the good life. Islam as a Divine religion, constructing its principles and values upon Godly revelation, as well as human reason, gives a coherent picture of the good, justice, virtue, perfection, progress, and the like.

Although Islam, like other Divine religions, claims the truth of religious principles, during human history irreligiosity has been the rule and religiosity has been the exception. This, however, poses a dilemma. For, by intuition, we expect that truth and justice should prevail, as the false should fade away. In addition, if God, the omnipotent, declares something as true and just, He is expected to help the truth and justice defeat false and injustice. The theory of Imam Mahdi is a solution to this dilemma. Hence, I call the Shia Islamic conviction with regard to Imamate and the end of history the 'theory of Imam Mahdi', rather than counting it as a minor conviction among the whole package of Shia Islamic convictions. The theory of Imam Mahdi is the spirit of religion, without which the very truth of religion encounters a dilemma.

As Shia Muslims generally affirm, it is a Divine promise to bring a period when human society, exhausted of various doctrines and ideologies, has the potential of accepting a Divine rule aimed at promoting the real essence of man towards his deserved perfection. Hence, God will bring human society to the point where every thing demands the establishment of Divine rule on earth under which humanity can live peacefully, justly, and prosperously. In what follows, a few Islamic evidences in this regard will be examined.

God the Almighty declares that He wants His righteous servants to rule the earth. And since this rule has not been realised so br, Ěthe end of history should witness it. The Holy Qur'an says: "Certainly We wrote in the Psalms, after the Torah: 'Indeed My righteous servants shall inherit the earth.' There is indeed in this a proclamation for a devout people. We did not send you but as a mercy to all the nations [1].

Muhammad Hasan Tabarsi, a leading interpreter of the Holy Qur'an, reports a saying from the seventh Imam (AS) that says: by righteous servants, these verses mean the followers of Imam Mahdi at the end of the earthy life . Then, Imam al Kadhim (AS) quotes a saying from the Prophet Muhammad (SA) in which he states : "If it does not remain but one day in the earthly life, God will extend that day until He sends a righteous servant from among my family, who makes justice and truth prevail on the earth, as the earth was dominated by injustice before[2]. Thus, this interpretation of these verses indicates the victory of Divine religion and God's righteous servants on earth.

Emphasising the ambition of disbelievers in eradication of religion by their weak efforts, the Qur'an confirms that it is the truth, as defined by Divine religion that prevails on earth: "They desire to put out the light of God with their mouths, but God is intent on perfecting His light though the faithless should be averse. It is He who has sent His Apostle with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may make it prevail over all doctrines, though the polytheists dislike it[3].

In the interpretation of these verses, Muhammad Hussein Tabataba'i, a prominent philosopher and interpreter of the Holy Qur'an, argues that these verses indicate that by sending Prophet Muhammad (SA) and Islam, God has decided to make his religion dominant throughout the globe by defeating all ideologies about human life, despite the disbelievers' disliking[4].

Finally, the following verses emphasise that it is God the Almighty who substantiates the prevalence of His religion on earth by His victorious power: "God has promised those of you who have faith and do righteous deeds that He will surely make them rule on earth, just as He made those who were before them rule and He will surely establish for them their religion which He has approved for them, and that He will surely change their state to security after their fear, while they worship Me, not ascribing any partners to Me. And whoever is ungrateful after that it is they who are the transgressors[5].

Tabarsi quotes some sayings by the Prophet's infallible successors (AS), in which they promise that at the end of human history the twelfth infallible successor of the Prophet (SA), Imam Mahdi, will make justice and faithfulness prevail in the world[6].

To sum it up, the theory of Imam Mahdi suggests that the truth will be broadly welcomed by people on earth at the era of Imam Mahdi (may Allah hasten his appearance).
  Notes

1. Qur'an: 21: 105-7.
2. Majma' a1-Bayan: vol. 7, pp. 106-7.
3. Qur'an: 9: 32-3.
4. A1-Mizan: vol. 9, p. 329.
5. Qur'an: 24: 55.
6. Majma' a1-Bayan: vol. 7, pp. 239-40.