The predominant characteristics and personal traits of His Eminence, Mahdi (a.s) are the same as that of his honorable ancestors and forefathers, the Holy Imams (a.s). Those great personages were the centers of mercy and torchbearers of effulgence of guidance on the earth, as the Almighty had sent them for the guidance of His creatures, they were created from effulgence, and appointed as guides and callers to Himself. Some of the important merits of the Holy Imam Mahdi (a.s) are as follows:
Encompassing knowledge of the Imam of the time
It is an established fact that His Eminence, would be the most knowledgeable and possess proficiency in all the sciences because he is the heir of his grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (a.s) and he is the custodian of the treasure of prophetic wisdom.
He is having encompassing knowledge about the religious law and the various aspects of the Shariah of his grandfather, the chief of the prophets. It is one of the comprehensive sciences of the Awaited Imam.
The Purified Imams have mentioned the high intellectual level of Imam Mahdi (a.s) in their sayings issued long before he was born in this world.
1. His Eminence, Amirul Momineen (a.s) says with regard to the virtues of Imam Mahdi (a.s), “He shall be most refuge-giving and the one having most knowledge and the one who does the most ‘Sile Raham’ (doing good to relatives).”[i]
2. Harth Ibne Mughaira Nazari says, “I inquired from His Eminence, Aba Abdillah Husain Bin Ali (a.s), ‘From what would the Mahdi be recognizeda’ He replied, ‘By recognizing the permissible and the prohibited and by the fact that people would be needful of him while he would not be needful of them.’”[ii]
3. His Eminence, Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) said, “His matter, that is, Kingdom would be from the youngest and the most handsome of us (the Progeny of Muhammad). The Almighty Allah would give him knowledge in inheritance and not leave him on his own (rather He is his helper and supporter).”[iii]
4. His Eminence, Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) said, “Knowledge of Almighty Allah, the Mighty and Sublime and the Sunnah (practice) of the Messenger of Allah (a.s) grows luxuriantly in the heart of our Mahdi in the best form. Any of you that survives and sees it should say when you see him: ‘Peace be upon you (all) of Ahle Bayt of Mercy and Prophethood and the mines of knowledge and the location of messengership.’”[iv]
Under the discussion of his excellent knowledge and accomplishments of His Eminence it is narrated that when he would reappear, he will discuss and prove his points with the Jews on the basis of Torah as a result of which a majority of them would accept Islam.[v]
His Eminence, Mahdi (a.s) during the minor occultation, was the sole point of reference and the greatest center of the final decision. Therefore the special deputies used to convey the questions of the people to the Holy Imam and obtain their replies. Such questions in large numbers are recorded in books of jurisprudence and traditions and they serve as references for the Islamic jurisprudents in deriving their verdicts.
It is better to reiterate here that Shaykh Saduq (a.r.) had collected many replies bearing the signature of the Holy Imam.
Piety of the Imam of the time
The character and hearts of the Imams of Ahle Bayt (a.s) in all aspects of thoughts and actions (among them is piety in the world and giving up of material pleasures and joys) are same for all of them. It is not possible to pick out a single instance from them but that it would be found to be piety in the world and the renunciation of material things. His Eminence, Amirul Momineen (a.s), the gate of the city of knowledge of the Messenger of Allah (a.s) in fact, divorced the world thrice so that it did not remain worthy of reconciliation. His pure and chaste descendents have also been bestowed with this exalted quality. Many traditions regarding the piety of Imam Mahdi (a.s) are recorded in history. Some of them are presented below:
a. Muammar Ibne Khuld has narrated from Imam Reza (a.s) the he said, “The dress and food of the Qaim of the Progeny of Muhammad shall be coarse and dry.”[vi]
b. Abu Basir has quoted that Imam Sadiq (a.s) said, “Do not be in haste of the advent and reappearance of the Imam of the time. By Allah, his dress shall be coarse and his food, barley bread, thick and dense.”[vii]
c. Ali Ibne Hamzah and Wahab have narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s) that he proclaimed regarding His Eminence, the Awaited Imam, “His dress is coarse and thick and his food is hard and rigid.”[viii]
It is an established fact that this method is found in all aspects of the life of His Eminence. If he had not possessed such mannerism, the Almighty Allah would not have selected him for the greatest reformative movement, from all the personalities of the earth. Then he it is, who would make the earth abound with justice and equity, as it would be completely fraught with injustice and oppression, and he would save humanity from arrogance and pride of oppressors. He would distribute divine wealth and goodness between deprived and needy people.
Patience of Imam of the Time
One of the prominent characteristics and spiritual excellence of His Eminence is patience and forbearance.
His Eminence is encountering more severe problems and calamities than faced by all the infallible Imams. During his prolonged life he has experienced many bitter incidents and great tragedies, which has made the Islamic world black and broken its limbs and the Muslim community with these pieces, is subjugated under the yoke of disbelievers and tyrants and struggling in that position. Such types of different oppressions have become common in the world of Islam and the divine rules and laws have been rendered useless. The wealth of the Muslims has been plundered and they interfere in all the decisions of the Muslim nation and they force their own view upon them.
All these calamities and corruptions are being wrought under the very eyes of His Eminence and he, being the father of the broken-up community, is very much pained by it.
He has indeed resorted to patience and forbearance and entrusted everything to the Almighty. And this is so because He is the One, Who has everything in His power, and He is the true Ruler on His creatures, and there is no kind of any command or opinion for anyone else.
Valor of the Imam of the time
His Eminence, Mahdi (a.s) is the bravest and the most valiant of all the people. In strength, power, courage and daring, he is like his great grandfather, the Messenger of Allah (a.s), because His Eminence, with all his capacity uprooted the powers of polytheism and destroyed roots of ignorance and oppression and announced the rights and honor of human beings. The Prophet of Islam rose against the leaders of oppression and enemies of Islam who intended to destroy and humiliate the lofty religion of God and destroyed their leaders and dispersed their supporters and bestowed honor and majesty to the word of Allah on the earth. In the same way, his great grandson and caliph, the Promised Imam, will also perform the same function. He would make the oppressors and rebels taste their misdeeds. And with firm determination, bereft of sloth, reinfuse greatness and honor to Islam without in any way surrendering to any sort of difficult matter and painful circumstances due to weakness and lack of attitude.
Steadfastness of the Imam of the time in rightfulness
His Eminence, the Awaited Imam is among the most steadfast defenders of truth and his defense and help for the oppressed and tortured one is more than that of anyone else. No kind of criticism hinders him from the deliverance of truth and its establishment.
The forefather and elders of His Eminence supported truth and displayed steadfastness in the face of falsehood and presented their sacrifice for social justice among the people. His Eminence, the Mahdi (a.s) also possesses the same quality.
When the world shall be illuminated by the reappearance of the Qaim of the Progeny of Muhammad and humanity would become fortunate by the advent of His Eminence, His Eminence would enliven all aspects of truth and destroy every kind of fraud, cheating and oppression.
Generosity of the Imam of the time
His Eminence, the Awaited Imam is the most generous and charitable among all the people. Narrators of traditions are unanimous that during the time of his government, His Eminence would distribute bounties and sustenance of God among all the poor people in such a way that not a single poor and needy person would remain on the face of the earth; so much so, that a person who desires to pay his Zakat to the eligible one would not be able to find a single recipient of alms. Some of these types of traditions are presented below:[ix]
a. Abu Saeed Khudri has narrated from the Prophet of Islam, in the events of His Eminence, Mahdi (a.s) that he said, "A man comes to him and says, 'O Mahdi! Give me! Give me!' His Eminence fills his utensil to the extent of what he could lift."
b. Ibne Asakir has quoted from the Messenger of Allah (a.s) that he said, "In the last age there would be a caliph who would pile up wealth."[x]
c. Jabir has narrated that he was in the company of His Eminence, Abu Ja'far Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) when a person came to him and addressing the Imam said, "Please accept these 500 dirhams, that is the Zakat of my wealth, and spend it in a suitable way." His Eminence, Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) said, "Search for them yourself in your neighbors, orphans, the needy and brothers-in-faith and distribute it among them. And it is the time when our Qaim would rise so that he could distribute it in equitable way and establish justice among the creatures of God, according to their good or evil. One who obeys him has obeyed Allah and one who disobeys him has disobeyed Allah. Since he guides in a secret and subtle manner, he is called 'the Mahdi.'"
His Eminence will bring out the Torah and other books from a cave in Antioch and command the people of Torah by Torah and people of Injeel with Injeel and people of Zabur with Zabur and people of Quran with Quran. All the wealth of the earth that is on its surface and below its surface would be gathered with him. Then he would say, 'O People! Come towards that for which you had severed relations and spilled blood on the earth and committed things prohibited by God.' Then he would give so much wealth to them as had never been given.[xi]
And other traditions that prove that His Eminence is a sea of mercy and generosity are those that mention that His Eminence would deal with the people with kindness and favors and save them from the yokes of hunger and deprivation and spread peace, comfort and needlessness among them.
[i] - Ghaybah, Nomani
[ii] - Iqdud Durar
[iii] - Iqdud Durar, Pg. 109
[iv] - Kamaluddin
[v] - Bihar, etc.
[vi] - Ghaybah, Nomani
[vii] - Ghaybah, Nomani
[viii] - Ghaybah, Nomani
[ix] - Yanabiul Mawaddah, Pg 431
[x] - Tarikh, Ibne Asakir, 1/186
[xi] - Kamaluddin, Biharul Anwar