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Mahdi In The Qur'an

5-B) Tafsir Al-Mizan By Allama Tabataba'i


Tabataba'i 1 comments that the word "In" in the beginning of the verse is an adverb of negation and means "and there is none" and that in the expression "min ahl al-Kitab" ("of the People of the Book") the subject has been deleted which was the word ahad (one) and the expression is then read as "ahad min ahl al-Kitab" ("one of the People of the Book"). He adds that the pronoun hi in "bihi" and the verb "yakuna" refers to `Isa, but that the pronoun hi in "qabla mawtihi" ("before his death") is the subject of different interpretations. Therefore, he reports from several mufassirin the following views :


1- Some of the commentators said that the pronoun hi in "qabla mawtihi" refers to the deleted subject ahad (one) and the meaning of the verse is then "each one of the People of the Book before his death will believe in `Isa" which means that just a moment before his or her death it will become clear to him or her that `Isa was the Prophet of God and His true Servant. But this faith at the last moment of life will not have 


1 Al-Mizan: Vol.5 , p.219 



any benefit and 'Isa will testify against all of the People of the Book on the Day of Judgement, either their faith was useful and they believed in him during their lifetime in the correct manner or their faith was useless because they started to believe a moment before their death.


2- Other commentators said that the pronoun hi in "qabla mawtihi" refers to 'Isa himself and that the faith of the People of the Book in 'Isa before the death of 'Isa will occur at the moment of 'Isa's descent from Heaven. These commentators give, as an argument supporting this view, some of the traditions that say the Prophet 'Isa is still alive and did not die on the Cross, and that he will return from Heaven at the End of Time and that all the Jews and Christians existing at that time will believe in him.


Then Tabataba'i gives his own opinion after having compared the verses concerning 'isa in the Qur'an, and concludes his argument by saying that the pronoun hi in "Qabla mawtihi" refers to 'Isa and that 'isa is not dead and will not die unless all the People of the Book believe in him and this is confirmed in the traditions.


Tabataba'i reports from the Tafsir al-Qummi in which a tradition is mentioned concerning this verse: "My father reported from Qasim ibn Muhammad who reported from Sulayman ibn Dawud, who reported from Abi Hamza, who reported from Shahr ibn Hushab who said : "Hajjaj told me: '0 Shahr, a verse of the Quran is causing me confusion, and I 



do not understand its meaning.' I asked: '0 Amir! Which verse is it?' He said: 'The verse : "And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment he will be a witness against them". By God, although I would give the order to slit the throat of a Jew or a Christian and would stand nearby until his last breath and would attentively look at him to see if he is testifying the legitimacy of Jesus, the Messiah or not, I would see nothing but his lips closed until his body would get cold. In such case, how is it that that verse of the Quran informs us that every Jew, before his death, becomes a believer in Jesus?' I told him: 'May God correct you; the meaning of the verse is not as you understood it.' `Then what is the meaning?' he said. `Before the Day of Judgement, Jesus will descend from Heaven and from all the nations no one will remain, be he Jew or non Jew, unless he becomes a believer in Jesus before he dies and Jesus will perform his prayers behind the Mahdi.' When Hajjaj heard these comments, he was most amazed and said: 'Wonderful! From whom did you learn this? From whom are you reporting these comments?' I replied: 'Muhammad ibn Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib related it to me.' To this, he answered: 'By God, you obtained this from a pure source.'"


Allama Tabataba'i then reports the same event from the tafsir al-Durr al-Manthur that ibn Manzar reported from Shahr ibn Hushab who said: "Hajjaj told me: '0 Shahr, there is a verse in the Quran that whenever I recite it, a feeling of 



objection rises within myself and it is the following verse: "And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death." At the same time the captives of war are brought to me and I usually slit their throats but I never hear anything from them before their death.' I told Hajjaj: 'You did not get the proper meaning of the verse; when the soul of a Christian leaves his body, the angels slap him from behind and from ahead and say: '0 Wicked one! When you were on earth, you used to believe that either Jesus is God, or is the son of God or is a third God while he was God's servant, His soul and His word.' When the Christian hears these words, he becomes a believer. However, at that time, his faith has no benefit. Likewise, when the soul of a Jew leaves his body, the angels slap and beat him from behind and ahead and say: '0 Wicked one! You were the one who believed that you had killed Jesus! He was the servant and the soul of God.' Hearing this, the Jew starts believing in Jesus but at a time when his faith is no longer of benefit to him. This event occurs continuously for each one of the Christians and the Jews, until the time of Jesus' descent. In fact, at that time, each one of the People of the Book, either dead or alive, will believe in him (Jesus).' Hajjaj asked: `Where did you get that from?' I replied: 'From Muhammad ibn Ali.' He said: 'Indeed, you got it from the fount of knowledge.' Shahr then added: 'By God, I never heard that story except from Umm Salama but in order to make Hajjaj 



(who was an enemy of the Ahl al-Bayt) jealous, I lied and told him that I heard it directly from Muhammad ibn Ali."


The author, in order to confirm that the verse concerns the Mahdi, reported from the same work (al-Durr al-Manthur) that Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim, and Bayhaki in the Kitab al-Asma wa al-Sifat reported a tradition in which the narrator said: "The Prophet said: 'How will you react when the son of Mary (Jesus) descends among you and your Imam will be from among yourselves?" 1 Again, according to the author, this is narrated in the same book from ibn Marduwayh who reported from Abu Hurayra that he said: "The Prophet said: "Soon the son. of Mary will descend among you and will kill the Antichrist and the pigs (that Christians consider as lawful from a religious point of view)- the meaning here may be that he will prohibit them from consuming pork - and he will break the Cross which is one of the Christians' religious symbols (he will annihilate those symbols) and re-introduce the taxes (that had been abandoned) among the People of the Book, so that they pay taxes to the Islamic government; at that time wealth will increase and only God, the Lord of the Worlds, will be worshipped." Abu Hurayra then said: "If you wish, recite the verse: "And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death", which means 'before the death of `Isa'" and he repeated 'the death of `Isa' three 


1 ... Úä ÃÈí åÑíÑÉ ÞÇá : ÞÇá ÑÓæá Ç... (Õ) ˜íÝ ÃäÊã ÅÐÇ äÒá ÇÈä ãÑíã Ýí˜ã æ ÅãÇã˜ã ãä˜ã. 



times." 1 Tabataba'i comments that the traditions concerning the descent of Jesus at the time of the appearance of Mahdi are numerous both from Shi'ite and Sunnite sources, and reported either from the Prophet or from the Ahl al-Bayt.


Allama then reports another view concerning the Prophet apart from the one mentioned above. He reports from the tafsir al-'Ayyashi, a tradition reported from Harith ibn Mugheerah who reported from Imam Sadiq who said that the following verse "And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death ; and on the Day of Judgment he will be a witness against them" is about the Prophet. The author comments that although this tradition seems to be in contradiction with the verses concerning `Isa, however it is possible to say that the aim of these traditions may be to clarify that when the Prophet was appointed and brought a Book and a Divine Law (Shari 'a}, which abrogated the Law brought by Jesus, it became compulsory for the People of the Book to believe in the Prophet Muhammad as well as in Jesus and the Prophets who came before Jesus. Also, if one of the People of the Book lived after the prophetic mission of the Prophet, and at the moment of his death when the truth is being unveiled, he finds out that Jesus was the truth, he will obviously at the same time realise the 


1 Úä ÃÈí åÑíÑÉ ÞÇá : ÞÇá ÑÓæá Ç... (Õ) : íæÔ˜ Ãä íäÒá Ýí˜ã ÇÈä ãÑíã ͘ãÇ ÚÏáÇ íÞÊá ÇáÏÌÇá æ íÞÊá ÇáÎäÒíÑ æ í˜ÓÑ ÇáÕáíÈ æ íÖÚ ÇáÌÒíÉ æ íÞÈÖ ÇáãÇá æ ʘæä ÇáÓÌÏÉ æÇÍÏÉ á... ÑÈ ÇáÚÇáãíä æ ÇÞÑÃæÇ Åä ÔÆÊã : æ Åä ãä Ãåá Çá˜ÊÇÈ ÅáÇ áíÄãää Èå ÞÈá ãæÊå ãæÊ ÚíÓí ÇÈä ãÑíã. Ëã íÚíÏåÇ ÃÈæ åÑíÑÉ ËáÇË ãÑÇÊ. 



truthfulness of the prophethood of the Prophet Muhammad. Therefore, the belief of the People of the Book in Jesus will be considered as true, only if they also believe in Muhammad. (In other words, they will understand that during their life, they were supposed to follow the religion of Muhammad as it is an abrogating religion, whereas the religion of Jesus is an abrogated one). Therefore, the Prophet who will be accepted truthfully by the People of the Book and who will bear witness against them is the Prophet Muhammad, who is the absolute proof for people living after his prophetic mission, although Jesus had the same position and there is no contradiction in considering one of the two Prophets in this verse. In the same book, says the author, it is reported from ibn Sinan who reported from Imam Sadiq concerning the commentary of the verse, that: "The faith of the People of the Book is only valid once they believe in the prophethood of Muhammad." 1


Again, Tabataba'i reports from the same book that it is reported from Jabir who reported from Imam Baqir (fifth Imam) that the latter said for the meaning of the above verse that: "No one from among any of the religions, from the very first to the very last, will die unless he contemplates the truthfulness of the Prophet of God (Muhammad) and the 


1 Úä ÃÈí ÚÈÏÇ... Ýí Þæá Ç... Ýí ÚíÓí : æ Åä ãä Ãåá Çá˜ÊÇÈ ÅáÇ áíÄãää Èå ÞÈá ãæÊå æ íæã ÇáÞíÇãÉ í˜æä Úáíåã ÔåíÏÇ. ÝÞÇá : ÅíãÇä Ãåá Çá˜ÊÇÈ ÅäãÇ åæ áãÍãÏ Õáí Ç... Úáíå æ Âáå 



Commander of the Believers (Amir al-Mu'minin Ali)". 1 Concerning this view, Allama Tabataba'i comments that "It is not sure that the Imam's purpose was to give a commentary of the verse or even to adapt his word to the verse because it is likely that these words were merely the continuation of other words that the Imam might have said regarding the verse, and such (fragmented) traditions are numerous."


He finally reports from the same book, a tradition from Mufadhdhal ibn `Umar who said: "I asked Imam Sadiq about the meaning of the verse "And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death", and he answered: 'This verse has been revealed for us, the People of the House; any of the children of Fatima will not die and leave this world unless they testify in favour of the Imam and his Imamate in the same way that the children of Ya'qub testified in favour of Yusuf ...". 2 Concerning this tradition, the author comments: "This tradition is among the traditions that have a unique transmitter (which is not valid except in Ahkam). Besides, the source of this tradition is not mentioned." 


1 Úä ÃÈí ÚÈÏÇ... Ýí Þæáå : æ Ãä ãä Ãåá Çá˜ÊÇÈ ÃáÇ áíÄãää Èå ÞÈá ãæÊå æ íæã ÇáÞíÇãÉ í˜æä Úáíåã ÔåíÏÇ. ÞÇá áíÓ ãä ÃÍÏ ãä ÌãíÚ ÇáÃÏíÇä íãæÊ ÅáÇ ÑÃí ÑÓæá Ç... (Õ) æ ÂãíÑ ÇáãÄãäíä (Ú) ÍÞÇ ãä ÇáÃæáíä æ ÇáÂÎÑíä.


2 Úä ÇáãÝÖá Èä ÚãÑ ÞÇá ÓÃáÊ ÃÈÇÚÈÏÇ... (Ú) Úä Þæá Ç... : æ Åä ãä Ãåá Çá˜ÊÇÈ ÅáÇ áíÄãää Èå ÞÈá ãæÊå. ÝÞÇá : åÐå äÒáÊ ÝíäÇ ÎÇÕÉ Åäå áíÓ ÑÌá ãä æáÏ ÝÇØãÉ íãæÊ æ áÇ íÎÑÌ ãä ÇáÏäíÇ ÍÊí íÞÑ ááÅãÇã æ áÅãÇãÊå ˜ãÇ ÃÞÑ æáÏ íÚÞæÈ áíæÓÝ Ííä ÞÇáæÇ : ÊÇ... áÞÏ ÂËј Ç... ÚáíäÇ. 

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