On March 18, 2008, Palestinian journalist and intellectual Ahmad Abu Matar, who resides in Norway, posted on the liberal website Elaph a satirical piece accusing Hamas of circulating reports of the birth of the Mahdi. The article refers to an interview by Muslim Gaza cleric 'Issa Badwan with the Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV, in which Badwan announced to the Palestinian people, and to the entire Muslim and Arab world, that the Mahdi had been born in Gaza in 2004, and that in the near future the Arab nation can expect great victories. [To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/1708]
In the article, Abu Matar went on to criticize Hamas for spreading false rumors, thereby fostering futile hopes among the public, and questioned the validity of the Islamic concept of the Mahdi. To underline his critical view of the issue, Abu Matar quoted Iraqi liberal Dr. 'Abdul Khaliq Hussein, saying: "How long will the masses... continue to fall victim to the clerics... and to Islamic political leaders?"
The following are excerpts from Abu-Matar's article:
"I Have Based This Article on Facts That Cannot Be Denied... From the Media [Affiliated With] Hamas"
"The suffering of the Palestinian and Arab people has come to an end. The Nakba has come to an end, and so have the ensuing occupation, expulsion, uprooting, and refugee [problem]. A few more years, and our hopes for the right of return to the Palestinian state, Jerusalem, and the settlements will be realized. Those who have suffered the Nakba and its painful repercussions for 60 long years – according to both the common and the Hijri calendars – must be able to bear the suffering for another 14 years, i.e. until 2022 CE, or at most until 2024 CE.
"I hope that the reader is armed with patience. These are not the words of a madman, written in a mental institution. I still work from my office, live at home, and am in control of my faculties – and those around me can attest to this. I have based this article on facts that cannot be denied, since they are taken from the media [affiliated with] the Hamas Islamic resistance movement.
"Could it be that the Islamic resistance, which has attained several divine victories in a row, and has twice liberated the Gaza Strip – first from the Israeli occupation and then from an occupation by Fatah's [Mahmoud] 'Abbas – [could it be that] it is dealing out distortions and delusions to the public? Allah forbid. Moreover, we must assume that it offers [the public] nothing but postulates of faith, which are incontrovertible...
"[By now,] the readers' patience [must have] run out, and I can picture them crying: Well, now what?... What are you trying to say?"
The Long-Awaited Palestinian Mahdi is Already Among Us
"...On Wednesday, February 6, 2007, the Al-Aqsa satellite TV channel, which serves as Hamas' mouthpiece, aired an interview with His Eminence Sheikh 'Issa Badwan, in which he relayed the following, [which I present] verbatim:
"'One of the trustworthy comrades – a prominent and well-known figure, whose name need not be disclosed – told me that about four years ago (i.e. in 2004), as he was stepping out of his car, he saw an old woman, who said to him: I want you to take me to the hospital to see my daughter, who has just given birth; I want to take her home. He decided to do her a favor and gave her a lift.
"'At the hospital, he waited for an hour while the woman fetched her daughter and the baby, and then they all got into the car – whereupon the baby spoke, saying: May peace, Allah's mercy, and His blessing be upon you! They replied to the baby, Peace be upon you!
"'As [the comrade] told us, and as we, Allah be thanked, relayed to Sheikh Nizar and other scholars and great sheikhs, the newborn infant enunciated: I am the man whom the anti-Christ will kill – whereupon no one will rule either over or after me.
"'The Prophet Muhammad's hadith, may Allah's prayer and blessing for peace be upon Him, states that at the time he is killed [the Mahdi] will be between 18 and 20 years old – these are the tidings. Of course, prior to the arrival of the anti-Christ, Rome, Italy, and Constantinople will be conquered – for the Prophet said... that these [places] would be conquered only by the righteous Mahdi, peace be upon him, who is from Palestine – as has been foretold by Imams and great scholars Mu'ath bin Jabal, Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas, and 'Abd Allah bin Mas'oud.'
"At this point, the TV host asked [the comrade]: 'Is the child being watched over?' And he replied: 'Yes, today he has become famous, and he is being watched over. The comrades are very concerned about his [well-being], Allah be thanked. What I would like to convey to the people and to the scholars is that the days [in which we live] are [the days] of victories, Allah be thanked, that the promised Mahdi has been sent to us, Allah be thanked, and that Palestine's residents will become the people of the banner – they are the bearers of this religion, and the ones who will spread it.'
"With this utterance, quoted [here] verbatim, His Eminence Sheikh 'Issa Badwan ended [the interview] with Al-Aqsa TV, and whoever wishes to hear or see [it] for himself must follow the link below, to ascertain that I am not twisting [facts] or maligning either the Al-Aqsa satellite channel or Sheikh 'Issa Badwan."
"You Should Not Find It Difficult To Bear the Suffering for [Another] 16 Years, Especially Since This Period [of Waiting for the Mahdi to Appear] Will Be Followed By Great Jubilation and Incredible Victories"
"Sheikh 'Issa Badwan vouched for the veracity of this story, [which was conveyed to him] by a well-known, prominent, and trustworthy figure. The event [described in it] occurred four years ago, and the Palestinian Mahdi, who is currently among us (that is, for whose arrival we are no longer waiting), is four years old.
"The anti-Christ will kill him when he is between 18 and 20 years old, as is stated in the hadith quoted by Sheikh 'Issa Badwan. This means that either 14 (until 2022) or 16 (until 2024) years are left until he will face the anti-Christ.
"Accordingly, insofar as the Palestinians, the Arabs, and the Muslims have suffered greatly during the 60 years since the Palestinian Nakba, or during the 532 years from the time of the liberation of Granada from the Arab occupiers... you should not find it difficult to bear the suffering for [another] 16 years, especially since this period will be followed by great jubilation and incredible victories marking the conquest of Rome, Italy and Constantinople.
"Sheikh 'Issa, there are several points that require clarification. Firstly, how will Constantinople be conquered? You said that the appearance of the long-awaited Mahdi (and as you have declared, he did indeed appear four years ago) will be preceded by 'the conquest of Rome, Italy, and Constantinople.' The city of Constantinople was conquered in 1453 CE by the [Muslim] Ottoman Empire, whereupon its name was changed to Istanbul, and its greatest church (Aya Sophia) became a mosque. How will Constantinople be actually conquered, if for 555 years it has [already] been under the [Muslim] Turkish rule?"
"[But] Which of the Two Conceptions of the Imam [Mahdi] Is More Valid [Sunni or Shi'ite]?"
"Secondly, do Muslims have more than one awaited Mahdi? This [question] raises a fundamental and fateful problem with regard to the expectations of the two nations, Arab and Islamic. Specifically, which of the two conceptions of the Imam [Mahdi] is more valid? The (Twelver) Shi'ite approach purports that Imam Muhammad Al-Mahdi is the last [in the succession of] Imams. As the Imam ruler, he succeeded his father Imam Hasan Al-Askari.
"Imam Al-Mahdi was born on 15 Sha'ban in the year 255 of the Hijra in the city of Samara in northern Iraq. His mother was Al-Sayyeda Narjis, the wife of Imam Al-Askari. He had two occultations. The Minor Occultation, which lasted 69 years, began in the year 260 of the Hijra, i.e. when he was five, and continued until the year 329 of the Hijra. The second, the Major Occultation, began in the year 329 of the Hijra and continues to this day. The believers await his reappearance, and therefore to them, he is the awaited Mahdi.
"According to the Sunnis, however, the awaited Mahdi has not yet been born. When he is born, the government of justice will be established throughout the world to the same extent as oppression prevailed [prior to his coming].
"The Sunnis reject most of the Shi'ite sources related to the awaited Mahdi, relying exclusively on their own philosophy and sources – in spite of numerous divergences and controversies in the latter, which were mentioned by Sheikh 'Othman Al-Khamis in his lecture titled 'Who is He – the Awaited Mahdi?'
"[In this lecture, Sheikh Al-Khamis] relies on Imam Al-Shawkani's view of numerous Sunni hadiths dealing with the awaited Mahdi, and quotes his statement: 'Out of the hadiths dealing with the awaited Mahdi, which are similar in content [but] which were handed down via different chains of transmission, [only] 50 are authentic, good, or weak but validated. These [50 hadiths] share a similar content but were undoubtedly [handed down via] different chains of transmission.'
"Sheikh Al-Khamis also discussed the Shi'ite view of the awaited Mahdi, saying: 'The story of the Mahdi in the Twelver Shi'ite tradition is odd; it is born of imagination and has, with time, become a legend that is so offensive to common sense that the majority of Shi'ite sects have rejected it, as have other [Muslims].'
"Every sect has espoused its own [concept of] the awaited Mahdi, and this causes confusion among 1.5 billion Muslims, who do not know which version to pin their hopes on – the awaited Mahdi who has been born but disappeared while still an infant, as the Shi'ites believe, or the Mahdi who has not yet been born, as the Sunnis believe..."
"It Is Highly Possible That the Awaited Palestinian Mahdi... Lives Within a Few Meters of the [Captured] Israeli Soldier Gilead Shalit"
"Sheikh 'Issa Badwan's announcement, which you have read, seen, and heard on the Hamas mouthpiece Al-Aqsa TV, of the 2004 birth of the awaited Mahdi is the common denominator in these two views, the Shi'ite and the Sunni. This is the Mahdi who, according to respected and learned Sheikh 'Issa Badwan, has been born and is now under the tutelage of the mujahideen comrades in the city of Gaza. I am sure that he is being looked after, watched over, and kept under supervision around the clock by means of a video-camera – no less [assiduously] than the [captive] Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit, who is also imprisoned in Gaza.
"Since, as most Palestinians are surely aware, the city of Gaza's territory is only 45 square kilometers, it is highly possible that the awaited Palestinian Mahdi, who has already been born, lives within a few meters of the Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit. It is also highly possible that there is great wisdom in this, perceived by no one except respected comrades such as Sheikh 'Issa Badwan and the anchormen of Al-Aqsa satellite TV, who speak in the name of Hamas."
A Colleague Wrote: "The U.S. Stationed Forces in the Gulf... To Invade Iraq as a Preliminary Step for the Conflict with [the] Mahdi"
"And now a slight digression is in order. I thought I had finished conveying these tidings to the two nations, Arab and Islamic, when I suddenly remembered an article by a colleague, Dr. 'Abdul Khaliq Hussein, published January 29, 2008 under the title 'The Main Reason for the Occupation of Iraq.'
"In it, he examines several causes of the occupation of Iraq as suggested by a variety of writers and politicians, such as the demand for democracy, the war on terror, oil, etc. However, the most fascinating cause, which is related to the tidings discussed above, is the one suggested by Muhammad Sadeq Al-Sadr, also known as Al-Sadr Al-Thani, in a Friday sermon he delivered in 1999 immediately before he was assassinated by Saddam Hussein's secret police.
"[In this sermon,] he foretold the occupation of Iraq six years before it actually occurred. This is what Dr. 'Abdul Khaliq Hussein wrote, quoting Imam Al-Sadr: 'Apropos of the advent of the awaited Mahdi, the U.S. knew about the Imam's appearance, and they have reliable information on this matter, which is kept in a Pentagon department – but they need [to obtain the Mahdi's] picture. Consequently, the U.S. stationed forces in the Gulf, planning to invade Iraq as a preliminary step for the conflict with Imam Al-Mahdi.'
"If any of the readers do not believe that these were the actual words uttered by Imam Muhammad Al-Sadr, they need only follow this link, to hear and see for themselves.
"[It is noteworthy] that Sayyed Muhammad Al-Sadr's words are not counter to the tidings of Sheikh 'Issa Badwan. The former believed that Iraq was invaded in order to fight the awaited Mahdi. The occupation occurred in 2003, [and] the Palestinian Mahdi appeared in 2004 – if only we disregard the fact that one is the Palestinian Mahdi and the other is the Iraqi Mahdi."
"How Long Will The Masses... Continue to Fall Victim to the Clerics... and to Islamic Political Leaders[?]"
"The important thing is that the Mahdi has been born and will for the next few years be closely supervised and guarded – whereupon he will reveal himself to everyone. He will fill the land with justice, to the same extent as it has been filled with oppression [until his advent].
"The entire land, mind you – which is significant, since it means the entire earth and not just his country of birth, Palestine... Are these not glad tidings that warrant cries of jubilation and drumbeating?
"I would like to end the discussion of this joyous message by quoting Dr. 'Abdul Khaliq Hussein's closing remarks in the above-mentioned article – for which he alone is responsible: 'How long will the poor and oppressed masses continue to fall victim to the clerics, who are manipulating their minds, and in particular to Islamic political leaders, whose lust for the blood of the innocent has not abated and who exploit religion to [attain] their private objectives?'"
 The Mahdi is an Islamic eschatological figure prophesied to appear on the Day of Judgment and to bring redemption to the world. There are numerous traditions in Islam regarding his identity, time of appearance, and activities, which fall into two categories - Shi'ite and Sunni. According to Shi'ite tradition the Mahdi, i.e. the Twelfth Imam, was born but disappeared, and has not yet come back, though his return is expected. According to Sunni tradition, the Mahdi has not yet been born. In all Islamic traditions, the Mahdi's advent is accompanied by the arrival of dajjal, the anti-Christ – a false messiah who will lead people astray.
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vaqaguv7k9o&feature=related This link no longer exists. For Dr. Abdul Khaliq Hussein's article, which appears on several websites, see e.g. http://www.aafaq.org/search_details.aspx?id_arch=10641.
 See Endnote 3 above.
 The mutawatir hadith.
 Sahih hadith is an authentic hadith, whose chain of transmission is flawless.
 Hasan hadith, which is either a Sahih hadith with a minor fault in the chain of transmission, or is a 'weak' hadith, i.e. containing a disparaged reporter in its chain of transmission, but validated by cross-references to other hadiths.
 Al-Da'if Al-Munjabar hadith falls in the category of weak hadiths, since it contains a disparaged reporter in its chain of transmission but is validated by another hadith.
 See Endnote 4 above.