Imam Mahdi in the Verse (24:55) 1

Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion-the one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace: 'They will worship Me (alone) and not associate aught with Me. 'If any do reject Faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked.(1)

A- Tafsir Majma’al-Bayan by Shaykh Tabarsi

Shaykh Tabarsi explains the verse as: “God promised to those who sincerely have faith and are obedient that he will make them heirs of the ancients and that He will grant them all the Arab and non-Arab unbelievers’ lands, and will make them inhabitants and governor of these lands, in the same way as he made the Bani Isra’il the heirs of the ancients and destroyed the tyrant of Egypt, and granted all his goods and lands to them.”(2) He then reports several views concerning this verse:

1- Some commentators believe that it concerns the Prophet.

2- Some say it concerns the Umma.

3- From the sayings of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt, it is reported that it concerns the Mahdi from the Prophet's descendants. The fourth Imam once recited this verse and said: “By God, these people are our Shi’ites about whom God will accomplish all the promises he made in this verse by the hands of a man from among us, who is the Mahdi of this Community.” The Prophet said about him: “Even if there remains only one day on Earth, God will prolong it until He will bring forth a pious man from my progeny and who is named as I am, so that he will fill the earth with justice and equity as it was filled with oppression and tyranny.”(3) The same tradition was reported by Imam Baqir and Imam Sadeq.

Shaykh Tabarsi adds that the expression “al-ladhina amanu minkum wa ‘amilu as-salehat” (“those among you who believe and work righteous deeds”) refers to the Prophet and the Ahl al-Bayt and that this verse gives them the good news that they will be the Caliphs (governors) and will seize power in every land and that during the revolution of the Mahdi, they will be made safe. Moreover, he affirms that the meaning of “kama estakhlafa al-ladhina min qablihim” (“as He granted it to those before them”) is that, before them also, God granted the governorship (khilafa) and power to those who deserved it, such as Adam, Dawud and Sulayman, as we can see in the following verses:

Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." They said: "Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?" He said: "I know what ye know not.” (4)

Or:

O David! We did indeed make thee a vicegerent on earth: so judge thou between men in truth (and justice): Nor follow thou the lusts (of thy heart), for they will mislead thee from the Path of Allah: for those who wander astray from the Path of Allah, is a Penalty Grievous, for that they forget the Day of Account.(5)

And:

Or do they envy mankind for what Allah hath given them of his bounty? But We had already given the people of Abraham the Book and Wisdom, and conferred upon them a great kingdom.(6)

Finally, concerning the Mahdi, Shaykh Tabarsi remarks that consensus has been reached among all the Imams concerning this subject and their consensus is a proof (hujja) because the Prophet said: “ I am leaving among you two weighty things: the Book of God and my progeny. They will never be separated from each other until they meet me again next to the fountain”.

B- Tafsir al-Mizan by Allama Tabataba’i

Tabataba’i explains that this verse constitutes a beautiful promise from God to the believers who also worked virtuous deeds; He promised to have them live in a just and virtuous society, to put the earth at their disposal, to make their religion reign on earth, to replace their fear by safety so that they will no longer be afraid of the hypocrites and their tricks or the unbelievers, and so that they will be able to worship their God freely and in safety. The verse and the promise mentioned in it is exclusively aimed at those believers (mu’minin) of robust faith but who also carried out virtuous deeds.

According to Tabataba’i, this verse was the subject of strong disagreement among the commentators. He then reports their different opinions:

1- Some of them said that the verse was revealed about the Companions of the Prophet and that God fulfilled the promise He made to them by putting the land at their disposal, making their religion triumph, or by replacing their fear by safety. In fact, after the death of the Prophet, during the time of the Caliphs (al- Khulafa al-rashidin), God enabled Islam to progress and gain dignity, and consequently the Muslims’ fear of Hypocrites and unbelievers was assuaged. These commentators also said that the believers' inheritance mentioned in this verse refers to the inheritance of the four Caliphs after the Prophet or otherwise only to the first three Caliphs.

2- Other commentators said that the verse is aimed at the Community (Umma) of the Prophet in general. And the meaning of the inheritance of the Prophet’s Umma, the supremacy of their religion, and the replacing of their fear by safety, is that they inherited the earth in the same way that the Communities before Islam inherited the earth. Or it can also refer to the inheritance of the Caliphs after the Prophet in which case God fulfilled His promise by making the Caliphs triumph over the unbelievers and conquer cities and countries of the world.

Here Tabataba’i remarks that, according to the two different views expressed above, this verse is among the predictions of the Qur’an because good tidings are mentioned that were not fulfilled at the time the verse was revealed and even the hope of their fulfillment was absent.

3- Other commentators said that this verse concerns the Mahdi whose reappearance is predicted in numerous authentic traditions, acknowledging that he will fill the earth with justice and equity as it was filled with tyranny and oppression. The meaning of “al-ladhina amanu minkum wa ‘amelu as-salehat” (“those among you who believe and work righteous deeds”) refers to the Prophet and the Imams from his family (Ahl al-Bayt).

Tabataba’i comments on the verse and gives his own opinion: “What we understand from the verse, leaving aside the many instances of negligence on the commentators' part, is that the verse is undoubtedly aimed at some of the people of the Community (Umma) and neither at the Community as a whole nor at some designated individuals from the Community, and these people are the people who believe and work righteous deeds as mentioned in the verse. This meaning is clear in the verse, and there is no evidence, either in the words of the verse or intellectually, that “the people who believe and work righteous deeds” are exclusively the Companions of the Prophet, or the Prophet himself with the Imams from his family, or the Community as a whole”.

He adds: “The meaning of their inheritance of earth, like the inheritance of the Communities of the past, is that God will make of them a virtuous society who will inherit the earth as He did for the Communities of the past. This inheritance is dependent on their being a virtuous society and not on particular individuals. Also the interpretation of this inheritance as the Divine Caliphate or the Divine Kingdom and authority, like the Kingdom of Dawud, Sulayman and Yusuf, is highly unlikely, because the Qur’an would not talk about such Prophets by saying “al-ladhina min Qablihim” (“those before them”). Moreover, this expression appears more than fifty times in the Qur’an and in any case it is applied to the Prophets.”

Continue in the next article: ( Imam Mahdi in the Verse (24:55) 2 )

NOTES:

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1. The Quran 24:55

2. Majma’ al-Bayan,Vol.17 p.161

3. Al-Borhan fi tafsir al-Quran, Vol. 4, P. 96

4. The Quran 2:30

5. The Quran 38:26

6. The Quran 4:54

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