Meeting Imam Mahdi (as) – Sunni Scholar and a Glimpse of Imam Mahdi (as)

A scholar from the Zaidi school of thought, Sayyed Bahrul Uloom Yamani, used to deny outright the merciful existence of Imam Mahdi (as). He used to say that the words of the Shiah regarding the Imam (as) – that Allah has kept the Imam (as) alive for the sake of guidance of mankind; that the existence of this world is due to his blessed existence; that he is in occultation and cannot be recognised by the people and on the order of Allah will reappear – all of these are lies.He kept up a steady conversation on this subject through letters with leading Shiah scholars and jurists of the time. He sought from them proofs regarding his (as) sacred existence and on his long life. The Shiah scholars offered several proofs which were available in books, but he rejected them all outright saying that he too had read these books (but was not satisfied with the response). He once wrote a letter to Ayatollah Isfahani seeking a solid proof from him on this subject.

Ayatollah Isfahani wrote back to him that he was not inclined to offer a reply in letter, but invited him to Najaf where he would offer a response which would be acceptable to his heart and would be conclusive.

When this letter reached him, he sought the advice of his close friends and thereafter along with his son Ibrahim and some of his close associates, he left from Yemen towards Najaf. After a long journey, Sayyed Bahrul Uloom Yamani reached Najaf where he met Ayatollah Isfahani along with other scholars. After a few courtesies, Sayyed Bahrul Uloom Yamani said to Ayatollah Isfahani, I came to Najaf on your insistence. Now please offer me the reply which you have promised.

Ayatollah Isfahani said, tomorrow night you come over to my house. I will offer you my reply there.

Thereafter he arranged for the food and lodging for the visitors. The next day came and passed away bringing with it the promised night. The visitors arrived at the house of Ayatollah Isfahani and ate to their fill. As time passed, slowly the other guests started leaving for their homes. Sayyed Bahrul Uloom Yamani was anxiously awaiting the promised response till such time that half the night passed away. He was thinking that I was invited from Yemen for a reply to my question and was promised that I would be answered in the night, but now it is past midnight and there seems to be no sign of any answer.

He was lost in these thoughts when suddenly the voice of Ayatollah Isfahani hit his ears. He was saying to his servant who was clutching a lamp – tell the son of Sayyed Bahrul Uloom to come here. The servant conveyed the message. Those who had come along with Sayyed Bahrul Uloom narrated that we rushed towards the door, but we were told not to enter. We stopped at the door and only Sayyed Bahrul Uloom and his son along with the servant went forth, but we don’t know where.

In any case, the next day dawned and we got a chance to meet Sayyed Ibrahim. We asked him about the events of the previous night. Sayyed Ibrahim said, All praise be to Allah! We have become people of vision and have accepted the faith of the Shiah Ithna Ashari. I asked, what is the reason for that!?

Sayyed Ibrahim said, because during that night, we were blessed with a meeting with Hazrat Imam Mahdi (as) along with Ayatollah Isfahani. When I pressed him further for details, he said, in the darkness of the night, when we left the house, we had no idea where we were going. We kept on walking till such time that we left the city and entered Wadi Us Salaam (cemetery outside the city of Najaf). In the centre of the Wadi, there is a place which is famous as the place of Imam Mahdi (as).

Ayatollah Isfahani took the lamp from Hussain Mashhadi (the servant) and thereafter my father, myself and the Ayatollah entered the courtyard. There was a well in the courtyard. Ayatollah Isfahani took out some water from the well and performed ablution with it. We were both amused at his actions. Thereafter he went forward to a place and prayed four units of prayer. He had barely completed his prayer and some words had escaped his lips, when the entire area was illuminated. Then he called out to my father. My father had just gone to his place when shortly I heard the sound of his crying. Suddenly he screamed and fell down in a faint. I was terrified by this scene and ran towards him. I saw that Ayatollah Isfahani was shaking the shoulder of my father. Finally he came to his senses. I was relieved by seeing this.

When we returned from there, my father said, I was granted the good opportunity to meet with Imam Mahdi (as) without any veil between us. I have now become a person of vision and have accepted the faith of Shiah Ithna Ashari.

Ref: Mulaqaat Ba Imame Zanana (as), volume 1, page 264

Lessons from this incident

There are several lessons which one can derive from this incident. Some of these are narrated below:

Guidance is in the hands of Allah alone. He guides whomever He wishes.

The rays of guidance emanating from the Holy shrines and cities of the Imams (as) are more effective than the words of wisdom from the scholars. Therefore the best gift for this world and the hereafter for our children is that we assist them for Hajj and Ziyarat of the graves of Aimmah (as).

There is no laboratory which can test the extent of our spiritual disease. However when we travel for Ziyarat, these diseases are apparent for the Imams (as) and they are able to offer a satisfactory cure for them.

While debating with the enemies of Ahle Bayt (as), one should seek the help and special attention of Imam Mahdi (as) which will cause our words and references to have more effect on the opposite party.

Imam Mahdi (as) knows best who should be guided through his meeting and who can be brought to the right path without meeting. Our duty is that we should always be hopeful of seeking a meeting with Hazrat Mahdi (as), but for some reason, if that is not possible, we should not despair. Rather we should consider it to be the best guidance for us.

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