Some skeptics cast doubt on the existence of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and label it as a Shiite belief. They either reject completely the belief in Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) or maintain that he will be born later near the end of time (Akhir al-Zaman).
Clearly, the skeptics have neglected their own books (wittingly or unwittingly) that have documented many traditions and Quranic verses proving the existence of Imam Mahdi (a.s.) and proving that it as an Islamic belief and not a Shiite innovation
One tradition that proves existence of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) and is widely reported by both sects as correct and continuously recorded (tawatur) is the ‘Tradition of the Two Weighty Things’ (Hadith Saqalain).
Hadith Saqalain is also known as Hadith Khalifatain meaning ‘Tradition of Two Successors’.
Hadith Saqalain / Khalifatain prove that an infallible member of Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) progeny is always present on the earth, just as surely as the Quran is present among the Muslims.
Let’s review the text of both versions (Saqalain and Khalifatain) according to popular reports:
إِنِّي تَارِكٌ فِيكُمْ خَلِيفَتَيْنِ: كِتَابُ اللَّهِ، حَبْلٌ مَمْدُودٌ مَا بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ، أَوْ مَا بَيْنَ السَّمَاءِ إِلَى الْأَرْضِ، وَعِتْرَتِي أَهْلُ بَيْتِي، وَإِنَّهُمَا لَنْ يَتَفَرَّقَا حَتَّى يَرِدَا عَلَيَّ الْحَوْضَ
Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed:
I leave behind two successors (Khalifatain): Allah’s book which is a stretched rope between the heaven and earth (or from heaven to earth) and my progeny (my family), these two will never separate from each other until they join me by the pool.
- Musnad Ahmed Ibn Hanbal v 35 p 456, 512
أَمَّا بَعْدُ. أَلَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ! فَإِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ يُوشِكُ أَنْ يَأْتِيَ رَسُولُ رَبِّي فَأُجِيبَ. وَ أَنَا تَارِكٌ فِيكُمْ ثَقَلَيْنِ: أَوَّلُهُمَا كِتَابُ اللَّهِ فِيهِ الْهُدَى وَ النُّورُ فَخُذُوا بِكِتَابِ اللَّهِ. وَ اسْتَمْسِكُوا بِهِ» فَحَثَّ عَلَى كِتَابِ اللَّهِ وَ رَغَّبَ فِيهِ. ثُمَّ قَالَ «وَ أَهْلُ بَيْتِي. أُذَكِّرُكُمْ اللَّهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي. أُذَكِّرُكُمْ اللَّهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي. أُذَكِّرُكُمْ اللَّهَ فِي أَهْلِ بَيْتِي
Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) informed in his last sermon at Khumm located between Mecca and Medina:
O people, I am human. I am about to receive a messenger (angel of death) from my Lord and I, in response to Allah’s call, (would bid farewell to you), but I am leaving among you two weighty things: the one being the Book of Allah in which there is right guidance and light, so hold fast to the Book of Allah and adhere to it. He exhorted (us) (to hold fast) to the Book of Allah and then said: The second are the members of my household I remind you (of your duties) to the members of my family.
- Sahih Muslim trad 2,408
Religious scholars similarly mention that Tradition of Saqalain / Khalifatain indicates that from among Holy Prophet’s progeny someone is always there until the Day of Judgment who is apt to be obeyed and who can lead people.
Ibn Hajar al-Haythami al-Makki, the author of Al-Sawaeq al-Muhriqah, records:
Saqalain traditions indicate that there are always qualified people among Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) progeny, who are like Allah’s book, always suitable to be obeyed and the earth will never be devoid of them. That is why Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) progeny is considered to be cause of the security of the inhabitants of the earth. The tradition of Saqalain proves what we have claimed.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) in his speech said:
فى كل خلف من امتى عدول من اهل بيتى
In every generation of my community, there is a just person from my progeny.
- Al-Sawaeq al-Muhriqah p 90
Consensus of all Muslims schools on existence of a scholar of Quran in every era
Muslim scholars take Hadith Saqalain as evidence that every era witnesses a member from Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) progeny.
In his remarks on Saqalain tradition, Hafiz Sharif Samhudi says:
This noble tradition shows that someone is always there from the progeny of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) until the Day of Judgment, as otherwise Holy Prophet’s words that encourage people to obey the two weighty things will not be meaningful.
Same is the case with the Holy Quran (it should also be permanently reliable, for the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) has advised us to hold fast to it). That is why the Holy Prophet’s progeny is a cause of the security of the inhabitants of earth. If they pass away the inhabitants of earth will perish.
- Jawahir al-Aqdain p 244.
In his al-Jame al-Saghir, Manawi has recorded the same point from Samhudi and so has Zarqani Maliki in his al-Mawahib al-Ladunniya.
- Sharh al-Jame al-Saghir v 3 p 15
- Sharh al-Mawahib al-Ladunniya v 7 p 8
Elsewhere Samhudi says:
Holy Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) progeny to whom we are advised to adhere to, includes those who are in possession of knowledge of Allah’s book. This is because the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) does not tell us to adhere to those who do not know about Allah’s book. These scholars are always in the company of the Holy Quran until they join the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) by the pool. That is why he (s.a.w.a.) said:
فلا تقدموهما فتهلكوا و لا تقصروا عنهما فتهلكوا و لا تعلموهم فانهم أعلم منكم
Thus, do not surpass the Holy Quran and my progeny as otherwise you will perish and do not fail to pay attention to them as otherwise you will perish. Do not teach anything to my progeny as they are more knowledgeable than you are.
- Jawahir al-Aqdain p 243
All three schools (Shia, Ahle Tasannun, Salafi) quote the famous tradition of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to prove existence of a scholar in every era:
يَحْمِلُ هَذَا الْعِلْمَ مِنْ كُلِ خَلَفٍ عُدُولُهُ، يَنْفُونَ عَنْهُ تَحْرِيفَ الْغَالِينَ، وَ انْتِحَالَ الْمُبْطِلِينَ وَ تَأْوِيلَ الْجَاهِلِين
There is a just one who possesses this knowledge (of Quran) in every generation of my community to reject the distortion of the exaggerators, the plagiarism of the corrupt, and the interpretation of the ignorant.
- Miftah Daar al-Sa’adah wa Manshoor Wilayah al-Ilm wa al-Iradah of Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, student of Ibn Taymiyyah p 163-164
- Nasir al-Deen Albani (Salafi authority) in his research of Mishkat al-Masabeeh part 1 p 53 has deemed this tradition Sahih
- Ahmed Ibn Hanbal has deemed this tradition Sahih
- Sunan al-Baihaqi v 10 p 209 trad 20,700
- Al-Jame le Ahkam al-Quran of Qurtubbi v 1 p 36
- Al-Kamil of Abdullah Ibn Adi v 1 p 248
- Mani al-Akhbar p 35
- Tafseer of Imam Hasan Askari (a.s.) p 47
- Behar al-Anwar v 27 p 222
Hadith Saqalain / Khalifatain clearly establishes the existence of a divine proof / scholar in every generation from the progeny of Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) to go with the Holy Quran and this pair will continue to exist alongside each other till the Day of Judgement. All Muslim schools with all their biases and prejudices hold this belief at a macro level. At a micro level however, it is their bias and prejudice that prevents them from acknowledging this scholar as one of the twelve Imams / caliphs from the progeny of Ahle Bait (a.s.), the same caliphs who will support religion till the end of time as documented by the Sihah of Ahle Tasannun.