In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
In a famous Hadith as Narrated by Ali ibn Abu Talib RZ: The Prophet SAS said: “If only one day of this time (world) remained, Allah would raise up a man from my family who would fill this earth with justice as it has been filled with oppression.” (Sunan Abu Dawud # 4283). In another narration from Abu Sa’id al-Khudri RZ, the word “Mahdi” is mentioned in the Hadith.
It is worth noting that “Oppression (or tyranny) is opposite to justice (Adl). The hadith shows that the Promised Mehdi ASWS would fill this earth with justice as it has been filled with oppression (tyranny). Now Muslim Ummah is looking for a man who can bring justice throughout the world by removing all kinds of oppression. This has also made them to believe that when the Promised Mahdi comes, he will rule the entire world to bring justice. Let us focus on “The earth” (al Ardh) and “filled with oppression”. The word “earth” could mean the entire earth as a planet or a piece of land on the earth. Here is a conversation between Prophet Moses AS and his people as described in the Qur’an: “They said: "We suffered troubles before you came to us, and since you have come to us." He (Moses) said: "It may be that your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you successors on the earth (al-Ardh), so that He may see how you act" (7:129). Here in this verse, “earth” refers to the land of Egypt, not the entire world. Similarly, in another verse, the word “Al Ardh” is used to represent the place of Madyan. Here is the verse: “And to (the people of) Madyan, (We sent) their brother Shu`ayb. He said: "O my people! Worship Allah! You have no other God but Him……. and do not do mischief on the earth (Al Ardh) after it has been set in order, that will be better for you, if you are believers. (7:85). Here the word “earth” refers to the place called Madyan.
Going back to the Hadith from Sunan Abu Dawud where it is said that Mahdi will fill the earth with justice, it does not necessarily mean that Mahdi will fill the entire earth with justice. Secondly, when Prophet Muhammed SAS did not rule over the entire world, how do we expect his perfect follower (Taba-e-Taam) to become the ruler of the entire world. This misconception of Mahdi being the ruler of the entire world brought the Muslim Ummah to believe that when Mahdi comes the entire world’s population will be Muslim. This is against the Qur’an because Qur’an says that Jews and Christians will be there until the doomsday. So, the question is what is Justice and Oppression as given in the Hadith.
Further, the word “Justice” needs to be understood in reference to oppression (tyranny). The injustice (oppression) is the opposite of Justice. The greatest injustice (sin) on this earth is Shirk (polytheism). In simple words, shirk is associating something or someone with Allah SWT. For instance, Idol worshiping or calling prophets, a common man, angels or Jins, as sons and daughters of Allah (Nauzubillah: we seek refuge in Allah). The Holy Qur’an describes the Shirk as “Zulmun Azeem”. Here is the verse: “Luqman advised his son telling him, "My son, do not consider anything equal to God, for it is the greatest injustice." (31:13)
When the Hadith says that Mahdi will fill the earth with justice, it means that Mahdi’s mission is to remove all kinds of shirk (explicit and hidden) from the hearts of the believers. In fact, this is the main mission of Imamuna Mahdi ASWS who taught us to remove even the slightest mark of even Shirk-a Khafi (hidden shirk) from oneself. Mahdi ASWS taught us to negate our Dhaat (self) without which one cannot fully affirm the existence of Allah SWT. Mahdi ASWS taught us to remove all kinds of duality (duee) and achieve the state of fana-fillah.
Although the shirk is the greatest level of oppression or injustice, we also see other levels of injustices prevailing in this world. We live today in a well industrialized and developed world with full of resources, still we see the level of oppression when a powerful country dominates on the will of smaller or weak communities. Powerful countries or countries with the help of other powerful countries grab the land of other smaller or less powerful countries. This happens in an era when we are talking about strengthening democracies and human rights. There is hardly anyone who can stop this oppression. The basis of any tyranny is injustice. As the level of injustice increases, so also the level of tyranny. If someone grabs the property of another person unjustly, it is a tyranny. It is not confined to property alone, anything that is acquired unjustly, such as the power, position, title (Mansab), rights, intangible or tangible assets, even an inch of land, these are all the examples of unjust acts and therefore, they are all tyrannies. Moreover, not recognizing the valid claim or right of an individual is an unjust act and results in tyranny. This would become much more serious when the grieved or victimized party is an orphan. Allah SWT warns us of any unjust behavior with the orphans. Here are the Qur’anic verses: “Give the orphans the possessions that belong to them, do not exchange good things with bad and do not consume their property, adding it to your own. Surely, this is a great crime. (4:2). Do not go near the orphans' property, except with the best of intentions, until they reach maturity. Keep your promises; you will be called to account for every promise which you have made! (17:34) As we see the highest level of injustice is Shirk, therefore the highest level of justice is Tawheed. May Allah save us from any unjust act and help us always stand for justice.