Signs of Reappearance (Arabic: علامات الظهور, transliteration: 'Alamat al-Zuhur) are those events which have been predicted by the Infallibles (a) to happen before or on the verge of the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a) and the happening of each of them is considered a good news for approaching his uprising in the world; so that, he (a) will rise after the last in the series of these signs happen. The Siren, rising of Sufyani, etc. are among these signs.
Relation with 'Ashrat al-Sa'ah
Since the uprising of Imam al-Mahdi (a) is considered among the events before the Judgment Day in religious sources, so some of the sign of reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a) are also considered as Indications of the Hour ('Ashrat al-Sa'a).
In religious sources, there are many natural, unnatural and socio-political events have been mentioned as the signs of reappearance. It is clear that the validity of all these signs is not the same.
Some of the narrations mentioning these signs exist in authentic sources and they are authentic regarding the reference and argument. Some others are mentioned either in non-authentic books or by unreliable people. Some of these signs are just signs of reappearance and some are also signs before the Judgment Day. Some signs are general and essential and some others are details and minor issues which can be categorized under one title.
What seems to be important is that frequency of these narrations assures us that on the verge of reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a) some events will occur, some of which will be significant and world-scale and some others are less important. However, there are some narrations which have mentioned some signs together.
Signs of reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a) are various and counting all of them is neither useful nor necessary; since, many of them are not definite signs of reappearance. Moreover, some of them have problems regarding reference and content and their authenticity is not clear. Therefore, in categorization of the signs, only the following criteria are considered here:
Definite and Indefinite
Among the signs of reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a), some have been mentioned as "definite" which are those, occurrence of which is definite without any precondition or prerequisite so that Imam al-Mahdi (a) will not return if they do not happen.
From many narrations among which there are authentic hadiths, five signs can be found as definite: Rising of Sufyani, Rising of Yamani, Siren in the sky, murder of al-Nafs al-Zakiyya (the purified soul) and al-Khasf bi-l-Bayda' (Burying in Bayda).
There are also signs which are indefinite, i.e. they depend on other events to happen. In other words, indefinite signs may or may not happen before Imam al-Mahdi (a) comes.
Some signs which have not been declared as definite are:
- Different causes of death
- Frequent earthquakes
- Wars and worldwide uprisings
- Unexpected lunar and solar eclipse
- Heavy rains
Preceding and Non-preceding
Based on some hadiths, some signs of reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a) are just preceding to it so that there is not a long time between happening them and reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a). Although, it is not clear how long is the time between happening them and reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a), but it is not long for sure and most probably such signs happen in the same year of reappearance or the year before it.
Therefore, there is no doubt that some signs of reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a) happen near or just before reappearance of imam al-Mahdi (a) and there are some other signs which will happen in the period of the Major Occultation.
Happening of the signs of reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a) is in a natural manner, but the prediction of some of them suggests that their happening is naturally impossible and they will happen as miracles such as rising of the sun from the West and the siren from sky which will be miracles if their apparent meanings are intended. However, they might have a figurative meaning and refer to events which naturally happen.
It should be said that there are many narrations about the signs of reappearance, but their references are weak and unreliable and there is not firm reasoning connection between them.
It seems that the great importance of the issue of Mahdism on the one hand, and the great interest of Muslims in knowing how future events and signs of reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a) happen on the other hand have made the enemies, especially cruel rulers, alter and distort in narrations in order to achieve their own political interests.
Now we have a multitude of authentic and non-authentic narrations about reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a), at least some of which have been altered and distorted. Unfortunately, there are also some books which either ignorantly or intentionally help this confusion.
However, there are cases of forgery or distortion about the signs of reappearance or emerging False Claimants as a sign which can never invalidate all narrations or signs since some of them are definite and authentic.
Some of the signs are clear regarding meaning and message, while some others are very ambiguous and complicated to understand. Many contemporary authors have mentioned these narrations and tried to interpret them based on their personal opinions. However, many of such authors do not have the scholarly competence to interpret these narrations and thus following such personal interpretations.
A beneficial example is as follows:
- Currently, Turks are in Iran, North of Iraq, Caucasus and Azerbaijan, so what does the phrase mean? And who are these Turks?
- What does "the island" mean?
- Today, Romans can include all the Europe and they even can include Americans since they immigrated from Europe.
- Also, words "West" or "East" have been mentioned in narrations and the question is what do they mean? Far East? Middle East? Far West? Or West of Arab countries including Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco?
In any case, it cannot definitely be said who or where the names in these narrations refer to today and it is needed to wait for the time to define these signs as there are.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from علائم ظهور in Farsi WikiShia.