The majority of Muslims reject the existence of Imam Mahdi (a.t.f.s.) as an invention of Shias, although his birth was prophesied and is documented in their very books.
Even if these Muslims ignore the numerous documentary references to Imam Mahdi’s (a.t.f.s.) birth, there is no way they can ignore the belief in an Imam in every generation / era. Failure to recognize the Imam of the time is clear apostasy, a fact admitted by all Muslims.
An interesting incident highlights the lengths Muslims have gone to, to avoid a death without an Imam.
Abdullah Ibn Umar and Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf
Abdullah Ibn Umar willingly goes to Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf al-Thaqafi (the bloodthirsty governor of Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan) and beseeches him:
‘O chief – extend your hand so that I may pledge allegiance to you on behalf of Ameerul Momineen Abdul Malik Ibn Marwan.
Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf: What has made you undertake this exercise O Aba Abdil Rahman, after delaying it all this while?
Abdullah Ibn Umar: I have undertaken it based on the tradition narrated to me wherein the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said: One who dies without the pledge of an Imam on his neck dies an ignorant death (death of apostasy, disbelief, hypocrisy).
Hajjaj retorts: Till yesterday, you avoided the allegiance to Ali Ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) although you were aware of this tradition. Now you come to me so that I accept your allegiance on behalf of Abdul Malik. As for my hands, they are occupied, but here is my leg, you may pledge allegiance on it!’
- Al-Mustarshid p 178
- Al-Fusool al-Mukhtarah p 245
Allamah Amini (r.a.) on Abdullah Ibn Umar
Allamah Amini (r.a.), the celebrated scholar, in his book – Al Ghadeer – documents this rather strange and hypocritical stance of Abdullah Ibn Umar with regards recognition of Imam:
‘What was the matter with Abdullah Ibn Umar when he abandoned the obligation of allegiance to our Master, Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) and refrained from seeking blessings from his noble hand (through allegiance) which was the same hand of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.), while Ali (a.s.) was the Prophet’s (s.a.w.a.) caliph without doubt. And why did Abdullah Ibn Umar abandon accepting Ali’s (a.s.) leadership and enrolling in his army while Ali (a.s.) was the self (Nafs) of the Greatest Prophet (s.a.w.a.).
And instead he accepted the disgrace of pledging allegiance to the likes of Hajjaj, the transgressor. Then Allah unleashed disgrace and humiliation on him (Abdullah) so much so that the tyrant (Hajjaj), the liar, the destroyer (of Muslims) stretched his foot (for allegiance) when Abdullah requested him to stretch his hand.
And with his abandoning prayers behind Ali (a.s.), Allah rewarded Abdullah with prayers behind Hajjaj and Abdullah exited from religion in this manner. And this is Abdullah’s humiliation in this world, as for the hereafter it is far more tormenting and lasting.
And there was more humiliation for Abdullah when he was subdued by Hajjaj, who finally killed him and then offered his funeral prayers! What can one say about the funeral prayers and related supplications of a tyrant like Hajjaj!’
- Al-Ghadeer v 10 p 91
Plainly, even a person of weak faith and misguided priorities like Abdullah Ibn Umar, was adamant on paying allegiance to his ‘Imam’ based on the tradition of the Prophet (s.a.w.a.). This is even when it was clear that Hajjaj was a transgressor and mass murderer, hardly eligible for Islam, let alone leadership of Muslims.
Therefore, it is surprising to see Muslims mocking the Shias for believing in an Imam who must exist going by the tradition of an Imam in every era. More so when this is Imam is from Aal Muhammad (a.s.) and is characterized by infallibility and divine support.