Dīnshināsī az Dīdgāh-i Ḥaḍrat-i Mahdī

Author: ʿAlī Aṣghar Riḍvānī
Reviewed by: Morteza Karimi

ʿAlī Aṣghar Riḍvānī, Dīnshināsī az Dīdgāh-i aḍrat-i Mahdī (a) (Knowledge of Religion from Imām Mahdī’s Point of View), 3rd ed., 1 vol., Qom: Dalīl-i Mā Publication, 1388, 438 pp.

One of the topics that has received less attention from researchers and writers about Mahdism is the discussion and investigation of Imām Mahdī’s words, letters, and prayers, which can open up new and wide horizons about Islamic teachings on theology, jurisprudence, and ethics. Dīnshināsī az Dīdgāh-i Ḥaḍrat-i Mahdī (a) (Knowledge of Religion from Imām Mahdī’s Point of View) in Persian by ʿAlī Aṣghar Riḍvānī tries to explain Islamic teachings and doctrines based on the ḥadīths narrated from Imām Mahdī (a).

Alī Aṣghar RiḍvānīBorn in 1331 (solar) in Aligudarz, Iran, ʿAlī Aṣghar Riḍvānī in addition to academic studies in geography, has extensive religious studies, especially in the field of Wahhabism and Mahdism, and has authored several works, including Wahhābiyyat va Tawassul (Wahhabism and Tawassul), Tavallud-i Ḥaḍrat-i Mahdī (a) (the Birth of Imām Mahdī (a)), Imāmat va Ghaybat (Imamate and Occultation), and Ghaybat-i ughrā (Minor Occultation).

Dīnshināsī az Dīdgāh-i Ḥaḍrat-i Mahdī (a) consist of an introduction and 9 chapters, each about one the main subjects in Islamic teachings. According to the author in his introduction, since some Shiite scholars have quoted Nudba supplication from Imām Mahdī (a), some of the narrations in this book have been taken from this supplication.

The first chapter deals with the knowledge of God based on the narrations of Imām Mahdī (a) in five parts: finding God, monotheism, positive attributes, negative attributes, and divine actions. The topics explained in these narrations include the impossibility of knowing God’s essence, the possibility of knowing God based on signs, the argument of order, monotheism in divinity, monotheism in worship, monotheism in ownership, monotheism in action, monotheism in knowledge and power, the non-conflict of tawassul to monotheism, criticism of the Ghulāt (Exaggerators), the signs of God’s power, the createdness of the world and pre-eternity of God, the negation of anthropomorphism, the impossibility of seeing God, purposes of creation, predestination, and the will of God.

Knowing the prophets based on the narrations of Imām Mahdī (a) is the subject of the second chapter, which is divided into two parts: general prophethood (about all prophets) and special prophethood (about the Holy Prophet (s)). In the section related to general prophethood, topics such as the duties of the prophets, their books and laws, and their successors are discussed. The second part, which is more detailed, raises many issues about the Holy Prophet (s), such as the tidings of the previous prophets regarding the Prophet (s), the need to believe in him (s), his attributes, his infallibility, the Prophet (s) as a manifestation of God’s mercy, the Prophet (s) as the last prophet, and his ascension (miʿrāj).

The third chapter of Dīnshināsī az Dīdgāh-i Ḥaḍrat-i Mahdī (a) is about knowing the Imām based on the narrations of Imām Mahdī (a). ʿAlī Aṣghar Riḍvānī first points out 36 points about the doctrine of Imamate, including the earth not being empty of divine proof (ḥujja), the choice of the Imām by God, the infallibility of the Imām, the types of knowledge of the Imām, and the duties of the Imām. Then the Ahl al-Bayt (a) are described in the words of Imām Mahdī (a) and various topics are mentioned, including the obligation to follow the Ahl al-Bayt (a), the unique characteristics of the Ahl al-Bayt (a), their various missions, the Ahl al-Bayt (a) as truthful scholars, pillars of religion, divine proofs, true mystics, and guardians of the religion, their relationship with angels, the creation of the Shiʿa from the light of the Ahl al-Bayt (a), and mourning in their calamity. In the next part of this chapter, Imām Mahdī’s words about each of the Imāms (from Imām ʿAlī (a) to Imām ʿAskarī (a)) are quoted, and in the final part, Imām Mahdī’s narrations about Mahdism are explained. Imām Mahdī’s words about Lady Fāṭima (a) are specifically quoted in the fourth chapter, and topics such as Lady Fāṭima (a) as the master of the women of the world, Lady Fāṭima’s attributes, Lady Fāṭima (a) as a role model for Imām Mahdī (a), and Imām Mahdī’s tawassul to Lady Fāṭima (a) are mentioned.

In the fifth chapter, 18 points are mentioned by ʿAlī Aṣghar Riḍvānī about the knowledge of resurrection based on Imām Mahdī’s narrations, such as the truth of death, the path (ṣirāṭ), the balance (mīzān), reckoning (ḥisāb), heaven and hell, and the question in Barzakh.

Dīnshināsī az Dīdgāh-i Ḥaḍrat-i MahdīThere is usually the impression that Imām Mahdī (a) has not had a narration on jurisprudence, but in the sixth chapter of Dīnshināsī az Dīdgāh-i Ḥaḍrat-i Mahdī (a), 63 jurisprudence rulings are mentioned based on Imām Mahdī’s narrations, such as the invalidity of praying in clothes made of marten or fox skin, the ruling of praying on a camel when it is snowing heavily, the ruling of intention in the ḥajj by proxy, the ruling of starting a war, the ruling of buying clothes from infidels, the unlawfulness of drinking beer, the ruling of visiting graves and building structures on them, and the rule of prostration of gratitude.

The topic of the seventh chapter is ethics based on the narrations of Imām Mahdī (a), and it mentions various moral issues such as piety, generosity, sincerity, gratitude for blessings, not grieving for tomorrow’s sustenance, patience in adversity, keeping one’s vows, asceticism in the world, caring for orphans, contentment with God’s pleasure, the necessity of repentance in youth, modesty and chastity, humility, trust, keeping the language from useless speech, fairness and justice, and meeting people’s needs.

The next chapter in Dīnshināsī az Dīdgāh-i Ḥaḍrat-i Mahdī (a) deals with the introduction of sins based on Imām Mahdī’s narrations and deals with topics such as the need to recognize forbidden deeds, not associating with deviants, prohibition of pride and openly sinning, betrayal of the eyes, the necessity of repentance and hoping for divine mercy, and the material and spiritual consequences of sin.

Finally, the ninth chapter deals with prayer from Imām Mahdī’s point of view and deals with topics such as prayer for oneself and others, ṣalawāt before prayer, group prayer, how to ask God for a need, and hoping for an answer to prayer.

The summary list of the contents is at the beginning and the detailed list of the contents and sources used by the author are at the end of the book.

ʿAlī Aṣghar Riḍvānī, in general, has done a good search for the narrations of Imām Mahdī (a) and has been able to extract various Islamic topics from them, and by categorizing them, he has presented a relatively complete course of understanding religion based on the narrations of Imām Mahdī (a).