Concerning the meaning of the first part of the verse "wa laqad katabna fi az-zabur mim ba'di adh-dhikr" ("Before this We wrote in the Psalms, after the Message (given to Moses)"), Shaykh Tabarsi reports several views : 1
1- Zabur are all the Prophets' Books. The meaning of the verse is then 'We wrote in all the Prophets' Books after the Mother of the Books which is in Heaven'. Zabur and Kitab (Book) have the same meaning here.
2- Zabur are the Books which were revealed after the Tawrah (Torah), and Dhikr in this verse means Tawrah, so the verse means "after the Tawrah, We wrote in the Zabur".
3- According to Sha'bi, Zabur is the Book of the Prophet David and Dhikr is the Book of the Prophet Moses. He also says that Dhikr is the Qur'an and transforms mim ba'd (after) to min qabl (before).
Concerning the second part of the verse: "inna al-ardh yarithuha `ibadiya as-salihun" ("My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the earth"), Tabarsi reports its meaning from several commentators :
1- Some define the word ardh as the earth of Heaven. So the verse means: "My righteous servants shall inherit the earth of
1 Majma' al-Bayan, Vol. 16. p. 170
Heaven". According to this view, this verse does not concern the Mahdi.
2- Some define the word as the same Earth we are living in and which will belong to the Umma of the Prophet Muhammad. As the Prophet says: "The Earth was gathered for me, and the Eastern and Western parts of it were offered to me. And soon the Kingdom of my Community (Umma) will recover all of them." 1 Regarding this verse, Imam Baqir asserts that these righteous servants are the Companions of the Mahdi at the End of Time. To confirm these statements, there is a tradition that both the Shi'ites and the Sunnites report as emanating from the Prophet: "Even if there remains only a day on the Earth, God will prolong it until He will bring forth a pious man from my progeny so that he will fill the earth with justice and equity as it was filled with oppression and tyranny." 2
After having reported that the verse concerns the Mahdi, Shaykh Tabarsi mentions a tradition which denies the Mahdi and gives his own opinion. He writes that, in his work al-Ba'th wa an-Nushur, Imam Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Husayn Bayhaki cites several traditions in this regard; his grandson `Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad also reported all of these in the
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year 517 AH, but the tradition reported from Abu `Abdullah Hafez from Muhammad ibn Khaled from Aban ibn Saleh from Hasan from Anas ibn Malek, claiming that the Prophet said: `The people are living in difficulty and miserliness .... and Mahdi is no one but `Isa ibn Maryam' 1 is first of all a tradition reported only by Muhammad ibn Khaled, and secondly both the latter and Abu 'Abdullah Hafez are unknown. Finally, declared Tabarsi, there is also disagreement in the Isnad or the transmissional chain of the Hadith: once Muhammad ibn Khaled reports the tradition from Aban ibn Saleh from Hasan from Anas from the Prophet, and once he reports the tradition from Aban ibn Abi `Ayyash (who can be omitted) from Hasan from the Prophet, and this chain of transmission is broken.
Tabarsi finally confirms his position, saying: "The traditions which clearly concern the reappearance of the Mahdi have a more trustworthy chain of narration. In these same traditions, it is reported that the Mahdi is from the Prophet's progeny. Among them, there is one that Bayhaki's grandson reports in his work from Abu Ali Rudbary, from Abu Bala ibn Das, from Abu Dawud Sajestani ..... from the Prophet who said: 'Even if there remains only one day on the earth, God will prolong it until He will bring forth a pious man from my progeny.' And in some of these traditions it is reported that the Prophet also
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said: 'His name is the same as my name and he will fill the earth with justice and equity as it was filled with oppression and tyranny.' Also he reports a tradition from the Prophet who said: 'The Mahdi is from my progeny, and from the descendants of Fatimah'."