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Last Updated: 2010/07/22
Summary of question
When the Imam of the Time (aj) reappears, how many Prophets and Imams (as) will return and accompany his reappearance?
question
When Imam Mahdi (aj) returns from his occultation, how many Prophets and Imams (as) will return and accompany the 12th Imam (aj) in his reappearance?
Concise answer

“Raj’ah” literally means ‘to return’, and in Islamic terms, refers to the return of certain people from the dead. These people may consist of dedicated believers and mushriks (polytheists) alike. It has been narrated that after the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam (aj) and his establishment of a global Islamic government and prior to the Day of Judgment, certain individuals will be raised from their graves and brought back to this world. Numerous narrations mention the reappearance of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the Imams (as), and Prophets that endured severe hardship in their lives in the way of Allah such as Prophet Isa (Jesus), Zakariyyah (Zachary), Yahya (John), and Hizqil (Ezekiel) (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them all). Narrations also mention that the first Imam to return will be Imam Hussein (as).  

Detailed Answer

Raj’ah” literally means ‘to return’, and in Islamic terms, refers to the return of certain people from the dead. These people may consist of dedicated believers and pure mushriks (polytheists) alike. It has been narrated that after the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam (aj) and his establishment of a global Islamic government and prior to the Day of Judgment, certain individuals will be raised from their graves and brought back to this world.

Belief in the raj’ah, is a principle founded in the Ahlul Bayt’s school of thought and is founded upon numerous narrations and verses of the Quran. Some of those narrations and verses will be mentioned in order to further expand upon this topic:

Verses:

After focusing on Quranic verses, one can conclude that the verses pointing to this subject can be broken down into two categories:

1) Verses that speak of it taking place in the future, such as verse 82 of Surah Naml which states: “The day We shall resurrect from every nation a group of those who denied Our signs, and they shall be held in check”. Most scholars believe this verse is referring to the Raj’ah and not the Day of Judgment. They believe it states that a group of both righteous and vile people will return to this world before the Day of Judgment. Their reason for this claim is that if the verse was actually referring to the Day of Judgment, it would have an incorrect meaning, because the verse says that only a group from every nation will be awakened, while on the Day of Judgment, all, not some, are to be resurrected. Verse 47 of Surah Kahf provides legitimate grounds for this argument: “And We will resurrect them (mankind) and not leave any of them out”.

2) Verses that speak of previous incidents regarding past civilizations which can be considered a form of returning, such as:

Verse 259 of Surah Baqarah which mentions the story of a Prophet who passed by a town whose walls had crumbled and discovered the bones of its inhabitants scattered in all directions. He asked himself: “How will Allah be able to resurrect all of these people after their death?” At that point, Allah took his life for a hundred years, and then resurrected him asking him how long his stop had been. The Prophet answered: “A day or less.” Allah then informed him that he had been dead for a hundred years! Regardless, of which Prophet this may have been (Uzayr or another of Allah’s Prophets), the central point which this verse establishes in this argument is that the potential of life after death does indeed exist in this world.[1]

Narrations:

Allamah Majlisi has provided in his book Bihar al-Anwar approximately 200 narrations detailing the raj’ah from over forty thiqah (authentic and trustworthy) narrators. In regards to this topic, Allamah Majlisi states that over fifty books have been written by many great scholars regarding this topic.[2] There is such an abundance of narrations pertaining to the raj’ah which make its reality difficult, if not impossible, to refute. Imam Sadiq (as) says: “The Almighty Allah states: ‘Verily, on the day that witnesses rise, We shall provide Our Prophets and those in this world who believed with assistance and victory”. The Imam (as) states: I swear by Allah that this is in reference to the raj’ah. Many of Allah’s Prophets departed from this world without being avenged. The Imams that followed them were also killed in this world without being provided with justice. Therefore, this statement of Allah the Almighty is in regards to the raj’ah and a time that will come where Allah’s Apostles (as) shall witness justice delivered to those that oppressed them.

It has been stated in numerous narrations that after the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam (aj) all of the infallible Imams (as) as well as Allah’s Prophets who endured great strife and oppression during their lifetime will return and their killers and oppressors will receive retribution. Similarly, pious believers as well as disbelievers and polytheists will also return to this world. A number of ziyarahs and supplications also mention the raj’ah, of which a few examples will be mentioned.

1. Ziyarah Jamiah: “…مؤمن بایابکم، مصدّق برجعتکم

2. Ziyarah Aale Ya-Sin: و انّ رجعتکم حق لا ریب فیها…”

3. Ziyarah Warith: “…انى بکم مؤمن و بایابکم موقن…”

4. Ziyarah Ashura: “ان یرزقنى طلب ثارک مع امام منصور من اهل بیت محمد (ص)

5. Dua al-Ahd: “…اللهم ان حال بینى و بینه الموت ... فاخرجنى من قبرى…”

As to which Imams (as) will return during the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam (aj), narrations mention the following:

1) The Holy Prophet (pbuh) says: “When the Twelfth Imam (aj) appears and leadership is passed on to him, at that time, the Prophet (pbuh) and Amir al-Muminin (as) shall appear. Amir al-Muminin will carry with him a cane and a branding iron.[3] Upon the cane there is a figure which reads ‘bismillah’ (in the name of Allah), which he will use to mark the foreheads of those who are believers. The figure upon the branding iron reads ‘bismilkafir’ (in the name of disbelievers), which he will use to brand the foreheads of the disbelievers. This way, believers and disbelievers will once again be distinguished. At that time, all of the Imams (as) shall return to assist Amir al-Muminin (as) and Imam Mahdi (aj). Prophets who endured much hardship and strife in the way of Allah, such as Zakariyyah (Zachary), Yahya (John), Hizqil (Ezekiel), and other Prophets which were injured or killed at the hands of the disbelievers shall also return to this world. Verily, news has been given to me of their reappearance to bring about swift retribution to their killers and oppressors as well as seek justice from those who spilt the blood of Hussain (as).”[4]

2) Imam Sadiq (as) says: The first Imam to return is Imam Hussein (as), after which he will govern [the Islamic nation] for a lengthy period of time. He will govern for so many years that his eyebrows will cover his eyes as a result of old age.[5]

Narrations pertaining to the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam (aj) state that Prophet Isa (Jesus) (as) shall be once again sent to this world at the permission of Allah. He shall appear before everyone as one of the companions of Imam Mahdi (aj) and shall stand in prayer behind the Imam. It has been narrated that the Holy Prophet said: “I swear by that which has instated me as a bearer of the truth, if there remains but one day to this world, Allah shall prolong that day until my son Mahdi (aj) reappears. After his reappearance, Prophet Isa (Jesus) Ruhollah (as) will descend to this world and will stand in prayer behind the Imam. It is then that Allah shall light up the world with His Light, and the government of Imam Mahdi shall encompass everywhere from east to west.”[6]

For more information regarding the raj’ah and the philosophy behind it, please refer to answers 247 (online:

1112) and 3006 (online: 3578).


[2] Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Biharul-Anwar, vol. 53, pg. 39.

[3] In Arabic: میسم.

[4] Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Biharul-Anwar, translation of 13th volume by Davani, pg.1165.

[5] Majlisi, Muhammad Baqir, Biharul-Anwar, vol. 53, pg.46.

[6] Adopted from 3006 (website: 3578).

[1] Adopted from Question 247 (website: 1112).
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