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Paper submission

  COMPARATIVE VIEWS ON MAHDISM The Divine vs The Human

BY:Shifa L Mustapha

Source : The Scientific Committee of the International Conference of Mahdism Doctrine

Throughout the centuries mankind, by its own standards, has sought someone to bring justice as a means to peace and fulfilment. Leaders have come and gone, but impenitent man in his ignorance and futility still keeps seeking one who will bring victory over oppression. Sadly in many instances the justice sought has been driven by fallible conceptions and convictions; even, at times, worsened by cleverly-concealed ambitious desires.

This paper attempts to demonstrate firstly, that without the recognition of, and aid from the Lord of the Worlds, mankind will never have cognisance of true justice, true values, and thus no matter how much it struggles, will never attain understanding of that which it innately seeks.

Secondly, unless man returns to the pristine Pathway of Allah, he will find himself rudderless in a sea of disaster, in grave danger of not recognising the Chosen One, Imam Mahdi (a.s.), Imam of the Age, who is to lead mankind and establish justice and peace upon the Earth.

1.1 The Nature of Man

Created by Allah, man\'s existence was for a noble purpose as seen Qur\'anically in Surah Al Hijr (15:26,28,29). Fashioned out of clay but breathed into by Allah, Lord of the Worlds, Adam (a.s.) the first man and recipient of the Divine life force was created in such a way that it was possible for him to attain the greatest heights of spirituality and intellect, receiving the capability of being the representative of Allah upon the Earth. This was acknowledged in aya 29 when it was said to the angels: "When I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, fall down in obeisance unto him". As if to reinforce this spiritual element of man’s being, the same words are given in verse 72 of Surah 38. Added to this spiritual element was the time spent with Allah in which He taught Adam, and even the angels acknowledged man\'s superiority over them in the attainment of this knowledge.

Nevertheless, in forgetting his origin and his Creator, man could revert to the lesser material, the clay which was ever part of him, and Iblis, the enemy of mankind, refused to bow to man basing his argument entirely on the reasoning of man’s material constituent being inferior. Even the angels had questioned when told that man was to be created as Allah\'s Vicegerent on earth: "Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?" Surah Al Baqarah (2:30). This may be further emphasised by the fact that Allah has, to a large extent, given man free will. It is man who must choose to fulfil his destiny with honour, and this may be seen in Surah Yunus (10:99) where Allah has stated the following: "If it had been thy Lord\'s Will, they would all have believed - all who are on the Earth! Wilt thou then compel mankind against their will to believe?" . Had Allah wanted blind obedience there were myriads of angels ever there to fulfil all that He commanded. Indeed, man was different, unique, and Allah answered the angels’ question by stating, “I know that which ye know not!”

Therefore, to focus upon the baser material of man’s origins would be to negate that most wonderful phenomenon - the spirit which Allah breathed into man, which has carried down through the generations over the thousands of years of man’s presence upon the earth. This has been addressed by Ayatullah Murtaza Mutahheri in the following: "In Islam the spiritual element breathed into man during the Creation of Adam means that man must pass from the innately good to that which is evil. Therefore, all of mankind has the propensity to turn to Allah."[1] He elaborates on this, indicating the example of Firawn. He, and those like him, still had the opportunity to turn to Allah, as in Surah Naml (27:14), “They denied Our signs, though their souls acknowledged them.” Of this aspect, Ayatullah Mutahheri likens their denial to a sort of revolution against their own consciences, with disbelief being the rejection of what their hearts believed.

Thus man may have travelled far down a pathway alien to that which is worthy and blessed, yet his soul acknowledges his spiritual need, even as his reason and actions deny such. We see indications of this recognition of the soul in the many legends which have been relayed through the ages, cultures and generations. The scenario is duplicated many times of the struggle between the Oppressor and the Righteous man who leads to victory and a bright future.
For those who have understanding, it is obvious that even in far-off lands, over many centuries, the need for Allah’s leading, although perhaps heavily overladen with cultural romanticism and digressions, remains as a small ember awaiting the divine spark which will light the fires of understanding to bring forth those who will choose to follow Allah’s ways and Allah’s Vicegerent. For those who do not have, or reject, spiritual understanding the unrequited longing of their souls hastens them down pathways away from Allah, to false deities and false Mahdi’s of their choosing, for by nature man’s very being requires him to worship. “Then set your face upright for religion in the right state - the nature made by Allah in which He has made men; there is no altering of Allah’s creation…” Surah Al Rum (30:30).

1.2 The Pathway of Man as Commanded by Allah

“..as for those who believe in Allah and hold fast by Him, He will cause them to enter into His mercy and grace and guide them to Himself on a right path.” Surah Al Nisa (4:175)

None can doubt the complexity of man’s composition when analysing the sum of his constituent elements which comprises the physiological, the psychological and the spiritual. The scope of man’s intellect and being has travelled far into the region of knowledge and capability,extending into religious, sociological, educational, scientific, industrial, political, economic, ecological, cultural, legal and governmental mores, all of which are interdependent, and lead into many further diverse areas requiring regulation and guidance. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that the One most able to understand and guide mankind is his Creator, Allah Most Merciful.

(a) Monotheism: Say: Verily my Lord hath guided me to a Way that is straight - a religion of right - the Path (trod) by Abraham the true in faith, and he (certainly) joined not gods with Allah.” Surah Al An‘am (6:161)
The first recognized step in this pathway is the acknowledgement of Islamic Monotheism, the fundamental belief in which Allah Alone is worshipped, having no partners nor yet is there any other God or one like Him upon whom one can call. The pathway of man as commanded by Allah is one in which recognition of, and obedience to Allah brings guidance and protection, and this may be seen in Surah Al Ikhlas - The Purity of Faith. All else is falsehood.
Imam Ali, Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) gives the following advice: Now then I advise you to fear Allah, Who created you for the first time; toward Him is your return, with Him lies the success of your aims, from Him terminate (all) your desires, towards Him runs your right path, and He is the goal of your fears (for seeking protection)… [2]
(b) Islam: “…. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” Surah Al Ma’idah (5:3)
Islam, the essence of monotheistic belief, is the religion which Allah has chosen for mankind, and which was, as stated in the Qur’an, the religion given to the Prophet Ibraham (a.s.) and those Prophets and Messengers chosen by Allah to follow on. It was perfected during the life of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and its vast stores of knowledge, laws, and admonition for mankind have been passed down through the centuries, being relayed and interpreted for the believers of each age by Allah’s chosen Representatives since that time.

Imam Ali (a.s.) speaks of it thus: “Have you fully realised what Islam is? It is indeed a religion founded on truth. It is such a fountain-head of learning that several streams of wisdom and knowledge flow from it. It is such a lamp that several lamps will be lighted from it. It is a lofty beacon illuminating the path of Allah…..”
(c) The Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.): “O Prophet! Truly We have sent thee as a Witness, a Bearer of Glad Tidings, and a Warner.” Surah Al Ahab (33:45)
On the pathway of Allah we cannot advance, nor yet hope to attain spiritual fulfilment, neither is one’s future secure at all without knowledge of, and love towards the holy Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). The final Prophet of Allah, who, of all Prophets, alone was given the responsibility, as seen even in previous scriptures, of being the mercy for mankind in its entirety. His position has been established by the Word of Allah, in which it is said: We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not. Surah Saba’ (34:28)
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) was not only the Receiver and Conveyor of the Message from Allah, but Judge and Statesman. He led the prayers of the people, educated them, administered divine justice between them, and issued orders as the leader of their society in war and peacetime. So important is the rank of this Prophet of Islam (s.a.w.) that there are many texts requiring obedience to him, such as Surah Al Nisa (4:80) in which it is said: He who obeys the Messenger obeys Allah. In fact, if one only refers to texts using the Arabic verb Ata’a meaning “to obey”, one immediately finds 27 verses which exhort obedience to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) as being obedience to Allah. Therefore the position of the Holy Prophet in the way of Allah is of paramount consequence.

1.3 The fulfilment of Allah’s promise
It is in the worship of Allah and sincere obedience to his Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) that Allah’s promise of guidance and mercy may be found. The Almighty has never allowed man to be left unprotected, without light and guidance. Even during long passages of time there were signs, scriptures and Messengers for those who retained faith in Allah. As reminded by Ayatullah Mutahheri, The Prophets and the Imams have been described as the main routes and the straight path, the sign-posts for the people, the light houses in the land, the guides to the way of Allah, the preachers of His message and the proclaimers of what He likes.[3]

This Light and Mercy did not disappear with the death of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) nor yet was there confusion over this issue for those of belief. This may be seen in the words of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) prior to his death beside the pond of Khumm on the 18th of Zhul Hijjah after the Farewell Pilgrimage: “It seems as if I have been summoned and I am going away. However I am leaving among you two weighty things, one of which is greater than the other. They are the Book of Allah the Almighty, and my children. So take care how you treat them after me. The two shall never part company until they come to me at the Pool. The Lord, Allah, the Almighty, is my Master and I am the master of every true believer.” Then he took the hand of Ali in his hand and said: “He is the master of those whose master I have been. O Allah, love those who love Ali and hate those who hate him…” [4]
This was not a capricious pronouncement prompted by nepotism or brought about by his love of Ali(a.s.), though there can be no doubt that certainly he did love him - this was by command of Allah with far-reaching consequences as deeper study reveals.

After Imam Ali, Commander of the Faithful (as.) would be those of the progeny of the Prophet (s.a.w.) through his and Fatemah‘s (a.s.) line, and this is noted in further reports from a number of sources, as in the following: The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) said: Behold! My Ahl-ul-Bayt are like the Ark of Noah, whoever embarked in it was saved, and whoever turned away from it was drowned. [5].
The Holy House (a.s.) was to prevail, not through Prophethood but Imamate - Spiritual Leadership and Governance. With each generation has been the Imam, the Wali, the Master of the Age, the one Perfect man whose purity and knowledge and nearness to Allah gives guidance to the Believers. With the occultation of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) the twelfth Imam, has come the promise of his re-appearance through which Allah, is to bring back justice and righteousness to the Earth. He, himself, has said: “I am Al-Mahdi, and I am the Still-living one who will establish justice throughout the world the same as it has been filled with oppression. Surely the earth will never remain without a witness, and people will not live in lack of a leader. Thus do not retell this except for your Muslim brothers who are Men of God”. [6]

2.1 Man’s tendencies to follow false pathways
He Who taught (the use of) the pen - taught man that which he knew not. Nay! But man doth transgress all bounds in that he looketh upon himself as self-sufficient. Verily to thy Lord is the return (of all). Al ’Alaq (96:4-8).
Qur’anically man who chooses to live without spiritual ethics is unappreciative. Created, nurtured and sustained by Allah, as stated, man is ungrateful, arrogant to the point of ignorance, rebellious, putting his own will before the Almighty, from Whom he came, and to Whom he is finally to return…Then see you such a one as takes as his god his own vain desire? Al Jathiya (45:23).
Obedience to Allah’s commands brings safeguards, thus while obedience is mandatory, science has often revealed that these commands are demonstrably beneficial. Discussion of dietary laws is not intended here, nevertheless there is a very thought-provoking text in connection to this aspect of obedience: “And do not eat of that on which Allah’s name has not been mentioned, and that is most surely a transgression; and most surely the Shaitans suggest to their friends that they should contend with you; and if you obey them, you shall most surely be polytheists (idol-worshippers).” Surah Al Anam (6:121). Clearly it is a warning for man not to place the influence or advice or commands of any other being above the words and commands of Allah, for the outcome of such is polytheism.
We are also reminded that man is not without an Enemy, and the vow of the Shaitan was : “I will lie in wait for (ambush) them on Thy Straight Way…” Surah Al Araf (7:16). We who are Muslim cannot claim immunity, but must be ever vigilant, remembering that the vowed ambush would not take place on a by-way, but on Allah’s Straight Path. It is not surprising therefore that the followers of Islam have diverged into many pathways.

Dealing with Degrees of Polytheism, which is a major recurrent theme in man’s history, Ayatullah Muttaheri states: “Now we can comprehend what the Holy Prophet meant when he said that infiltration of polytheism into belief is as quiet and imperceptible as the crawling of an ant on a smooth (black) stone in the darkness of night. The fact is that the dividing line between monotheism and polytheism is the relationship between Allah on the one hand and man and the world on the other. This relationship is that of “from Him” and “to Him”. In the theoretical monotheism the line of demarcation is “from him”. We are all from Allah.”[7]

2.2 Historical Evidence of false pathways:
“Mankind was but one people; so Allah sent the prophets as bearers of good tidings and as warners, and He sent down with them the book with the truth, so that it might judge between the people in that in which they had differed. And none differed about it but the very people who were given it, after clear signs had come to them, revolting among themselves; whereupon Allah guided, by His will, those who believed, to the truth about which they differed…” Surah Al Baqarah (2:213)

Of the above verse, al-Allamah as-Sayyid at-Tabatabai’ comments: “This verse explains why religion was promulgated and mankind obliged to follow it, and why differences occurred in it. Mankind,…were in the beginning one single group. Then occurred differences about the acquisition of the necessities of life.” This earliest religion for mankind was expanded and enhanced by the sending of Prophets, but again there was deviation. “ … This time about the knowledge of religion, or about matters concerning the beginning and end of mankind. Thus, religious unity was disrupted and various groups appeared on the scene, and their differences contaminated other aspects of life. These second differences only occurred because of the revolt of the very people who were given the book, after the fundamentals and characteristics of religion had been fully explained to them, and the proof of Allah had been completed for them.” [8]

Clearly, there were initially two reasons for the differences within mankind from which others branched: (a) desire for worldly gains, which he considered as a natural phenomenon and (b) religious differences, which were not natural, but based on the revolt of mischief-makers.

Religious deviations

The religious history of mankind reveals that not only have religious differences crept into the purity of religion, but in many cases further alienation has existed because of those who have been motivated by politics and avarice to deceive themselves and/or the people. We are reminded of Ayatullah Muttaheri’s words: Sometimes a religious creed is misused in a social system. [9]
In any case divisions, many of which have been accompanied by bloody battles, have marred the essence of religion of those in the past. On the other hand, there are those who have gradually grown away from the Path, replacing it with a cultural by-way. Whatever the case, today we witness a mere glimmer of that which had once been a powerful glow.
Hindusim, Buddhism and tribal cultures
Taking into account some of these areas regarding religious differences, we should mention that Hinduism and Buddhism still exhibit some areas within their ancient books which allude to a time when polytheism was not their focus. Tribal cultures also appear to contain elements of a past monotheism.

Judaism
Unlike the previously-mentioned religions, Judaism [10] , as we now describe it, originated from an identifiably pure source as seen with Prophet Abraham (a.s.) and was passed on by the Will of Allah through major and minor Prophets (a.s.), as is witnessed Qur’anically: “We did aforetime grant to the Children of Israel the Book, the Power of Command, and Prophethood; We gave them for sustenance things good and pure; and We favoured them above the nations.” Surah Al Jathiyah (45:16). However, as also witnessed Qur’anically, those who were entrusted with this Pathway of Allah fell away from His Truth. So far did they fall that we see, even in their scriptures where human sacrifice, for a time, became part of their ritualistic belief.[11] Their un-Godly Pathway was prompted by their arrogance and wilfulness, and Allah has given us this insight into their thought processes: “….they inherited the Book, but they chose the vanities of this world saying: (everything) will be forgiven us” Surah Al A’raf (7:169). Had they chosen to remain on the Straight Pathway it would have led them, even as their Scriptures testified, to acceptance of the the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and the perfection of Islam.
>From Judaism have come a number of sects - today’s orthodox branch of Judaism has stemmed from Pharisaism, the prevailing religion at the time of Jesus (a.s.). Branches of Judaism include the ascetics and Cabalists with their esoteric teachings, as well as the modernists who want an end to male circumcision and the Sabbath, and the upholding of what is known sin (in reality they have completely dispensed with all the old teachings referred to as Torath Yahveh or Yirath Yahveh - see note 10); Zionism is not an accepted religious branch of Judaism, being more a political faction and is, in fact, dismissed as heretical by the true orthodoxy while being eagerly accepted by irreligious Jews. However, a growing number of Rabbi’s and sects are teaching that unless Zionism is a part of their system of belief, they are not true Jews.

Christianity
Digressions in Christianity came early in its existence. History will testify to the fact that for a short time during the early Christian era, the true Church responded to the needs and teachings of the people. However, with the Rome-centred deviation and spread to the farthest reaches of the known world, the truth became anathema and alarming philosophies and practices became orthodoxy with devastation for those who believed otherwise.

In Christianity monotheism was supplanted by polytheism. Of this the Qur’an makes mention: “They take their priests and their anchorites to be their Lords in derogation of Allah, and they take (as a deity) Christ the son of Mary; Yet they were commanded to worship but One God: There is no God but He.” Surah Al Tawbah (9:31)
Digression from monotheism and Divine Guidance, brought corruption and arrogance. History witnessed great wealth and power in the hands of the ruling Popes; the merging of Church and State, through client Royals; loss of social justice with vast gulfs between the rich and poor; resultant slavery; denial of education to the common people, and anathematisation of science as being evil. History elaborates on the many military forays into unknown regions, blessed and financed by the church; wars waged on countless unsuspecting indigenous populations the most famous of these holy wars, the Crusades, promising immediate absolution for those who would rescue the Holy Land from the evil Muslims.

Today’s Christianity owes its survival to several factors: (a) the commencement in the 13th Century Renaissance lasting approximately 300 years, in which ordinary people demanded their rights to education, skills and cultural learning. (b) The Seventy Years Captivity which commenced in 1305 with a French Pope, Clement V being crowned in Lyon, and the papal court being moved from Rome to Avignon in 1309 where it remained throughout the reign of the next seven Popes, ending in 1377 with return of the papal throne to Rome under Pope Gregory XI. (c ) The Reformation in 1517 with Martin Luther’s stand against certain Church practices, and from which the Protestant movement sprang. The Reformation went further, questioning Church dogma, with reinterpretation and publishing of Scriptures, a blow to the established Church from which she has never fully recovered.
It must be noted that none of the above factors, the Reformation included, brought back the monotheism taught by Jesus (a.s.). Hence its polytheism continued, in essence preventing recognition of the revealed truth of Islam, still leading man away from salvation. Shifts in Christian religious beliefs have continued and may be seen in innumerable diverse sects and cults. Man’s spiritual desire for monotheism may be seen in the large numbers of adherents leaving the churches, searching for religious substance.
Contemporary New Age Religions
Cults: It would be very remiss not to mention the “New Age” cults and religions which are gaining sway throughout the world, particularly the Western world at this time. Many appear to be a melange of elements of Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca (witchcraft), Gaia worship (Earth worship), Goddess worship and further hocus pocus, mostly influenced by Pantheism.

Pantheism et al. : Recognising that Pantheism is an ancient cult, it is included because of its far-reaching effect in newly-merging cults, even in some modern Christian teachings. In Pantheism we note that “God” is in everything and everything is God. Therefore, one may live as one chooses, for to obey one’s instincts and desires is to be obedient to “God”. Seemingly in conflict is what is termed Deep Ecology in which the inherent belief is that man is of no more intrinsic value than an animal or plant, etc. However, if pantheism over-rides, then all are equally “God” .
Further into this aspect is that which is now designated as “speciesism”. An interesting quotation from financier, Sir James Goldsmith gives further indication of this: No matter how brilliant the technological revolutions, no matter how useful the economic and political initiatives, there can only be hope if man cast away his anthropocentric delusions… and find his place in nature.” [12] Speciesism states that man must remember that he is no more valuable than a blade of grass or an ant. Therefore we find man being tossed from one extreme to another - from God to insect! For him to consider his origin as being of special significance and nobility, is a view regarded as harmful and incorrect.
Goddess and Gaia worship: An article in the Religion column of (U.S.)Time magazine May 6, 1991 headed When God was a Woman, with the sub-heading Worshippers of Mother Earth are part of a Goddess resurgence, mentions the following: “To mark Earth Day last week, four women and two men stood on a hilltop outside Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, literally praying to Mother Earth………..The ceremonies were part of a growing U.S. spiritual movement, Goddess worship, the effort to create a female-centred focus for spiritual expression. Most participants are women who seek a deity other than God the Father, and a faith less patriarchal than the Judeo-Christian tradition seems to offer. Adherents claim the movement involves as many as 100,000 U.S. women. …… Isis or Astarte are often invoked, [though]most worship a vague generic “Goddess” often depicted as Mother Earth or Gaia, in line with environmental awareness…..some old-line churches are opening up to the Goddess”.

Feminism: It is notable that in one North American mosque, Islam has been tainted by Feminism, having a female muezzin and a female Imam to lead the prayers. Certainly placing women’s un-Islamic desires for leadership ahead of obedience to Allah, upholds what has been written by Imam Ali, Commander of the faithful (a.s.): Do not obey them even in good things so that they may not attract you to evils.[13]
Syncretism: Syncretism, classified as “Religion of all Religions”. This is not Islam but “the blending of the best of all religions”…. reminding of the Pagan Meccans when they suggested to the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) that they would bow down and worship “his god” if he would worship theirs.
Syncretism is part of a global agenda reported by the first General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Dr. W.A. Visser ’t Hooft as such: The word syncretism should be reserved for another type of religious attitude which deserves to have its own name because it is such an important, persistent and widespread religious phenomenon. This is the view that holds that there is no unique revelation in history, that there are many different ways to reach the divine reality, that all formulations of religious truth or experience are by their nature inadequate expressions of that truth, and that it is necessary to harmonize as much as possible all religious ideas and experiences so as to create one universal religion for all mankind.” [14]
Islam’s inflexibility in this regard is being questioned, even by some Muslims, as other religions adjust belief to fit a global theology. Interfaith organisations are working towards this end with the development of a new “Interfaith Ministry“. Prayers intoned have segments from all religions, and one phrase used in a recent combined prayer was “La Illaha Illallah, Muhammadan Rasooloollah” which so completely negated every other polytheistic utterance - obviously this phrase has not been understood by the authors of the prayer. We await with interest the day their vision is unveiled.

2.3 Human responses to deviations - revolutions without divine guidance
Man who is unschooled in true spiritual matters has no base from which he may judge matters of spiritual significance. This does not prevent him from using his natural inclination towards justice in which he may determine that ills have resulted from religious deviations. This has tended to lead man to discard religion entirely without searching for truth, at times proclaiming it to be the causation of all ills.

One result of religious digression, Revolution without the guidance of Allah, may be seen as the great swing away from religion itself. Prompted by social injustice wearing the guise of religion, the swing away from “religion” after the reformation, continued in the direction of politics free of religion. In eighteenth century France, revolution took place during which time thousands of aristocrats were executed, including the King, who had claimed the Divine Right of Kings. During this time that an ugly scene was enacted wherein a prostitute was lifted high above the cheering crowds and given the title, “Goddess of Reason”.
Atheism finds ready root in this fertile soil. Other revolutions were the direct result of uprising against unjust and oppressive regimes labeled as having had Divine favour. While freedom may be the primary goal, materialism appears to transcend it, and Marx, for example, believed that freedom is nothing except consciousness of historical necessity. Although an intellectual, he never appeared to give credence to the higher essence of man, or a Higher power. As late as 1986 another former Russian President, Mikhail Gorbachev is reported as saying: We must lead a determined struggle against religion, and we must reinforce atheist propaganda” [15]
The upholding of atheistic policy, even while upholding human rights values and ethics, eventually leads to destabilisation - usually this comes about due to man’s unfailing tendency towards tyranny in order to control the multitudes.

3.1 Responses to revolutions and wars - the UN and its background.
Man’s condition without spiritual guidance has caused pain and tribulation upon the Earth. It was not without reason that Allah has instructed us of man’s many failings. The greatest of these with regard to human Society is his propensity toward tyranny and war. Therefore, Society has had to look for ways in which to curb the outcome of this evil.
As early as 1307 the French legislator, Pierre Dubois drafted a plan for forming a union of Christian nations under the lead of the King of France. However, there have always been those who have believed in unity for mankind as a whole, and in contemporary times the principle is to seek peace through global unity, irrespective of religion.
The late 19th, and early 20th centuries saw Western European efforts for prevention of war through the Hague Conferences, which proved unsuccessful with the outbreak of the First World War. In 1918, associations to prevent wars were formed in Europe and sections of early treaties, namely Westphalia and Vienna, were included in the Versaille peace treaty, as well as proposals for a League of Nations which was formalised on 1st January 1920 with a membership of 28 Allied and 14 neutral States. This membership later increased to some 60 States. The purpose was to prevent future wars by establishing relations on a basis of justice and honour, promoting co-operation and supplying material and intellectual aid. The official seat was Geneva and the official languages French and English.
As organisations before it, the League of Nations proved not only inadequate, but in some aspects its decision-making and lack of control were considered negative. Its failure is considered to have been due to cases wherein “vital interests” of powerful totalitarian nations were involved. Only the minor states were pressured to obey the League. The final Assembly was held on April 8th 1946.

UNITED NATIONS

The United Nations came about in response to the failure of the League of Nations but its aims did not change. Representatives of nations opposed to Germany, Italy and Japan, met in San Francisco in April 1945, working on what we now know to be the Charter of the United Nations which was signed in June 1945. The UN was established on October 24th, 1945 before the end of the Second World War, and before the final League of Nations Assembly.
The UN Charter has many fine aspects relating to the maintaining of peace on the basis of justice, with promotion of friendly relations and co-operation in all matters for all nations. There is also commitment to the collective encouragement for respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion. Nation Members are encouraged to settlement of disputes where peace and justice are not compromised. It is said that States that are not members are also to observe the same principles, although the UN has no jurisdiction in the internal affairs of States unless the UN Council is taking action to settle a dispute. World Health, Education, Affairs in respect of Women and Children, even of religion, receive attention in Covenants which are duly ratified by member States.
Some authors have considered the UN Charter to be approaching the excellence of civil laws relating to governance and justice, which were designed by Imam Ali (a.s.). Nevertheless, there are some UN Covenants, sections and statements which may be regarded as ambiguous, or may even translate into actions being disadvantageous, depending on perspective. Therefore, we are reminded of the fact that although of the highest degree of excellence, it is still the works of men’s hands. Looking at the personalities of men who have had the most to do with this charter and this organisation, one cannot but see that it has not been brought about through obedience to the Creator, but as a very clever interpretation of mankind’s contemporary needs.
One personality who had a great deal to do with the UN, being the first Director of UNESCO, was Sir Julian Huxley. His academic and scientific record is impeccable and many of his writings show that he was a man of intellect, a great man by human standards, an Evolutionist who advocated scientific principles to moral, social and political issues. We gauge further of his feelings on the spiritual and eternal in the following:
In the evolutionary pattern of thought, there is neither need nor room for the supernatural. The earth was not created; it evolved. So did all the animals and plants that inhabit it, including our human selves, mind and soul as well as brain and body. So did religion. The Humanist Frame (1961) p. 18

3.2 UN in practice as opposed to its charter.
While recognising the charter and its very important Human Rights statements we question: Does the UN function more effectively than earlier charters and conventions? Certainly it has remained for a longer period of time than past similar organisations.
There have been times when the UN has, as in the case of the League of Nations, been unable to withstand the contentions and actions of strong nations. In many instances it has been referred to as a “paper tiger”. This is particularly so in recent years with the growing strength of the US together with its allies. We have noted the complete rejection of the UN stand regarding certain nations, and the UN’s inability to make reply and to prevent wars. We have noted in some instances that injustice is not perceived, and rejection of its mandates goes without penalty. Or in other instances the UN has delivered a just decision and in later years this decision has been revoked by members with a different agenda.[16]
In 1850 an erudite William Penn said: Either nations will be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants. This is the case with nations undoubtedly, but what of the UN?

4.1 False Mahdism from non-religious viewpoint, political and apolitical
The coming of a Saviour from the non-religious point of view within the framework of politics: (a) One would have to consider that in many instances man is placing his trust in the UN as a body which will ultimately save the Earth through wise governance(b) On the other hand there are those who believe that the UN will make way for the coming New World Order which will bring salvation for those on Earth. This latter theory makes way for a tyrannical form of world Government.

4.2 False Mahdism from religious aspect
As seen in section 2.2 there are many false teachings. Of Judaism we find the belief of “The Messiah”. This doctrine does not accept of what is known of Imam Al Mahdi (a.s.), so it is reasonable to suppose that it is a false Mahdi.
In Christianity there are several beliefs regarding the return of Jesus (a.s.) but there is no teaching which equates with Imam Mahdi (a.s.). Some go as far as to preach against any that would rise up in such circumstances, for all other than Jesus (a.s.) will be false. However, there are those who believe that the return of “Jesus” will place Jews at the head of world government.
Of the New Age religions there are several areas of concern: In Gaia worship it is taught that God is to “mate” with Mother Earth and Lord Matreya will come forth. This would have to qualify as a false Mahdi as he is to save the Earth. Syncretists have probably forgotten any need at all for a Mahdi, as they have all the love and peace and are working on formulating the “best of religions”; Pantheist-based religionists see no need whatsoever for salvation after all they are “one with God and nature”.
>From the point of view of Islam we know that there have been false Mahdi’s in the past, and no doubt in the future it is possible where the pathway has been diverted.

5. Conclusion: Recognition of true Mahdi (a.s.) and its outcome.
“Allah has promised to make those of you who believe and do good deeds, successors in the land, as He has made those before them, and will establish their religion which He has chosen for them and change their fear into security. They will worship Me, and ascribe nothing as a partner to Me. Those who disbelieve are the wicked indeed.” Surah An-Nur (24:55) This verse which refers to the establishment of a Just, and Righteous, Government by Allah’s Vicegerent, our Imam of the Age (a.s.), undoubtedly is the promise for which the soul of mankind longs. We note again the repeated theme of Islam, monotheism and remember the commands and decrees of Allah which accompany it.

Over the centuries Believers have been told of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) and the great events which will occur when he appears to mankind. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) told of his coming(a.s.): Allah will raise a man from my progeny, from my Ahlul-Bayt, by whom the earth will be filled with justice thoroughly, just as it has been filled with injustice and oppression[17], identifying him : Al Mahdi is from my progeny from the sons of Fatima (a.s.) [18]

All Muslims have knowledge of this to some extent - though differences remain in traditional understanding of the birth and history of the 12th Imam(a.s.). The Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (a.s.) has quoted the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) as saying, Happiness is for the one who will attend the Gha’im of my Ahlul-Bayt and will follow him before his rise. This person will love his lovers and hate his enemies, and will accept the leadership of the Imams from before his advent. These ones are my friends, and are the most sincere members of my Ummah whom I honour very much.” [19]. In some of the other collections we see the following: The Holy Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘The person who dies and has not known the Imam of his time has died the same as one who died during the Age of Ignorance.” [20]
The Imam of our Age, Imam Al Mahdi (a.s.) is , by the determination and Command of Allah to bring a Governance which will restore the order of mankind and the Earth. For us to be unaware of this vital part of our religious heritage is to place us in danger of Jahilliyah, not only in death, but in the way we live and in our system of values.
This era has witnessed turmoil of immense proportions worldwide. Morality and decency have been lost and justice has dwindled. Humanity staggers from one terrifying calamity to another and the world itself is reeling under the weight of wretchedness. Mankind has truly entered dark days. The door of hope is that of the return of our Imam (a.s.). However, the timing is with Allah, and we do not know how long we will have to wait. Nevertheless, even to be awaiting his deliverance gives us hope and prevents despair. As has been quoted by Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini in his book, Imam Zain Al-Abideen (AS) has been reported to have said, “To hope for deliverance and release in itself functions as the most profound form of deliverance.”

References:
[1] Ayatullah Murtaza Mutahheri, Man and Universe, p.86
[2] Imam Ali, Nahjol Balagha (compiled by Sayyid Shareef ar-Razi) Sermon 197
[3] Ayatullah Murtaza Mutahheri, Man and Universe, p.96
[4] Al-Hakim, Al-Mustadrak, vol.3 p.109.
[5] Ibid, vol.3 p.151; Ibn Hajar, Al-Sawaiq al-Muhriqah, pp. 184,234;
[6] Kamal-ud-Din, p.445
[7] Ayatullah Murtaza Mutahheri, Man and Universe, p.95
[8] Al-Allamah as-Sayyid Muhammad Husayn at-Tabatabai, Al- Mizan, vol. 3 pp. 167,168
[9] Ayatullah Murtaza Mutahheri, Man and Universe , p.85
[10] Originally known as Torath Yahveh (instruction or moral law revealed by Yahveh) or Yirath
Yahveh (the fear and reverence of Yahveh (Allah)
[11] Bible - Old Testament - Jer. 7:30,31
[12] Sir James Goldsmith, 1989 Adam Smith Lecture, London., as reported in The Roman Chronicle
Bolton, England, No. 57, December 1989.
[13] Imam Ali, Nahjol Balagha, Sermon 79.
[14] Dr. W.A. Visser ‘t Hooft, No Other Name: The Choice Between Syncretism and Christian
Universalism, p.11.
[15] F. Thorn, Gorbachev’s Politics of Religion, The Salibury Review, England, Spt. 1988, p.46.
[16] Resolution 3379 (1975) qualified Zionism as a form of racism. This was revoked by resolution 4686
in 1989.
[17] Al-Musannif, vol 11, p.371; Also found in Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari
[18] Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol.4, p.107
[19] Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol.52, p.129
[20] Musnad-I-Ahmad-ibn-Hanbal, vol.2p.83, vol. 3, p.446, vol.4,p.96; Sahih Bukhari vol.5,p.13;
Sahih Muslim vol.6,p.21, no.1849.
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