It was verified from the previous traditions that the Expected Mahdi who shall emerge at the end of time and will fill the earth with equity and Justice just as it had been filled with cruelty and oppression is none other than Abul-Qasim Muhammad -ibn-Hassan Askari (A.S.). It was also proved that he was born in the night of 15th Shaban, 256. What is integral to this matter is that he should have lived a long life and right from that time until now, more than one thousand and one hundred years have passed from Mahdi's age and Allah knows best about the time of his emergence and his demise.
Although longevity is something unusual amongst the people yet, as per the nature it is a possible phenomenon. Moreover, there exists proofs and reasons for the long life of Mahdi (A.S.). In other words, the prolongation of Mahdi's life is amongst the possible affairs and reasons too confirm this point. Thus one is helpless in accepting and acknowledging this matter.
The author of 'Tazkerat-ul-Um says: The entire Imamiah sect believe that Khalaf-e-Hujjat is living and receiving his sustenance. For proving Hazrat to be alive they set forth the following reasons:
First reason : A group of people such as Khizr and Ilyas have lived a long life and it is (still) not known for how many years they have been living. Every year they meet each other and catch each others hair.(91)
In 'Torah' it has come that Zul-Qarnain lived for 3000 years. However Muslims believe that he lived for 1500 years.
Muhammad-ibn-Ishaq says:- 'Awaj-ibn-Unaq' lived for 3600 years.(92) Awaj-ibn-Unaq (whose father's name was Subhan and mother's name was Unaq) was born during Hazrat Adam's time and continued to live until Hazrat Musa killed him. 'Zahhaq' lived for 1000 years(93). 'Thamuras' too has lived for 1000 years.
Amongst the Prophets, we may mention such names as Hazrat Adam, Nub, Shais and others who have lived for 1000 or more years(94). Qainan lived for 900 years.(95) Mehla'eel lived for 800 years.(96) Nuqail-ibn-Abdullah lived for 700 years. The soothsayer Rabiya-ibn-Omar lived for 600 years. Aamer-ibn-Zureb who was the Judge amongst the Arabs, lived for 500 years. Similarly Sulaba and Saam-ibn-Nuh lived for the same number of years. Harb-ibn-Mazaz Jarhami lived for 400 years. It was he who said:
Arfakhshad too lived for 400 years. Qais-ibn-Saa'eda lived for a period of 380 years.(97) Ka'ab-ibn-Jumha or Jamma Dusi lived for 390 years. Salman Farsi lived for 250 and according to some other sources for 300 years.
The author of Matalib-us-Su'ool writes: Mahdi was born during Mu'tamid-Allah time and has been concealed till now due to fear (from the enemies). This matter cannot be mentioned because the one who gets concealed and there comes no news from him, (then) his occultation and disconnection of news from him is no reason to believe that his life has come to an end. The Power of Allah is vast. The decree and favours of Allah upon His servants are great and having universality. It is necessary for the eminent scholars to perceive the realities of objects of power (i.e. the creatures) of Allah. However, there exists no way for recognizing the essence of Allah's Power and those trying to do so will be left in bewilderment. One of the verses of the Holy Quran says:- It is not heresy and it is not improbable to generalize some of the virtuous servants of Allah. His long life till a certain period of time is not something unlikely to occur because, Allah has prolonged the life of many of His Prophets, Legatees expelled ones and enemies. Amongst His pure ones, we may mention the names of Isa and Khizr. Moreover there were many other Prophets (like Hazrat Nuh) who each lived for a 1000 years. Amongst the expelled ones and enemies we may mention Satan and Dajjal and others like Aad who lived for approximately 1000 years. The same was the case with Luqman. All these examples reveal the extent of Allah's Power by which He has given such long life to some of His servants. So what is wrong in saying that Mahdi's age (too) has been prolonged until his emergence?!
If the hygienic rules and the religious and medical directives are observed it is not impracticable to live a lengthy life. The reverse is also true (i.e. non-observance of the afore-said rules will result in reduction in ones life-span.
On this basis, the number of deaths in some countries are much less at present than former times and the number of aged people are more than the previous years. Of course it should not be unsaid that since the hygienic rules are better observed today than former years we see such magnificient results. For this reason, some important companies have been established which insures man's health and give guarantee for his limited life under special regulations and fixed limit which have been enacted according to the principles of hygiene.
As a result of following the hygienic rules we see the desired effects out of our conscience. If it was not such, the attention of the wise would not have been focused on those afore-said companies.
When keeping watch over the hygienic formulas and their rules ensures a persons health and prolongation of life it necessarily follows that the more the observance of hygienic rules the more longer will be a persons life. What we see out of our conscience (like difference in health and age and difference in the mode of life) is the best proof and evidence to what we have written.
Therefore, whenever the means of hygiene is kept at man's disposal his age shall be prolonged to the extent which Allah wishes. The principles of these means are of three types:
First: Observance (during the primary stage) when man is merely a matter. That is to say when he is in the rear of his father, the period of his transition to his mother's womb, growth and development in his mother's womb and the period of sucking milk when he is together with his mother. This is because observance of the hygienic principles by parents during this stage is the first step for ensuring a child's health. How often we see a child dying during his infancy or childhood period because of his parents suffering from some disease and or their heedlessness in applying the means of a sound health and non-observance on their part of his (i.e. the child's) hygienic principles. Thus the parents in such cases are the cause of this felony and they are responsible for depriving their child from living a natural and normal life. 'O would that the parents deem it necessary upon themselves to follow such rules and regulations and as a result save themselves from such blame.
Second: Observance of those things which are the basis of man's life like the air that he breathes, the food that he eats, the water that he drinks, the clothes that he wears and the environment in which he lives. This is because observance of the means and rules of a sound health in each of these five affairs with respect to quantity, quality, age, strength, weakness, time and place are the most important channels having influence over the health and long life of man.
How many a person have been overtaken by death and have died before dying naturally. The reason for giving away one's life which by nature, is loved by every living creature is the non-observance of one of the afore-mentioned five affairs. A number of physicians and doctors have emphasised that majority of the people who die do not die a natural death. Rather the main cause has been the external factors which come into existence by not observing the rules of a sound health with regards to the afore-mentioned affairs. Hazrat Farid Wajdi Affandi has narrated the words of some of the physicians and doctors in his book 'Da'erat-ul-Ma'aref'.
Third: External occurances and incidents and contact with natural phenomenons like uncustomary heat and cold, pain and maladies, misfortunes and difficulties, grief and sorrow and actions and movements. All these greatly influence a persons health and life-span. How often it has occurred that a person has died of heat or cold or has perished because of pain and illness. How many a person's life has been shortened due to misfortunes and difficulties or has turned old due to grief and sorrow. Besides, a great number of people's life do obliterate and break up due to severity of their actions and bodily movements. If these factors do not play any role in man's death then, his life would certainly be long enough.
If man observes the hygienic rules as per the afore-said three principles , then nothing can prevent him from living for hundreds and rather thousands of years in this world by the will of Allah!?(98)
No matter how much we ponder over this point and probe into some of the appropriate books, we cannot find any objection and reason against this matter. Rather, too often a person doing research into this matter has come across some facts forcing him to testify in the subject of longivity.
The mysteries of life and the faculties which have been deposited in man's existence is always hidden and unknown. Today, medical science with all its advancement has not become cognizant with all those mysteries and has not perceived its realities the way it should have done so. Some of our friends who are doctors have confirmed this point. One of them says: Often it occurs that a patient is brought to me and as per the medical rules, I see him close to death. Rather his chance of survival is one percent. I then leave him aside and lose hope in his recovery. When on the same day or the next day I visit him for the time, I see him well and fine and the probability of his dying becomes one percent. On the other hand, how often it has occurred that I come across another patient whose case is just the opposite of the first patient.
Verily, to live for hundreds of years is something unusual and uncustomary meaning that gathering together and obtaining the means of a sound health from all the aspects (which we previously pointed out) is earnestly a rare and scarce affair - and does. not occur for majority of the people in most of the periods and places. However if those means are gathered together, it is possible for man's life-span to prolong habitually and naturally. So, the problem lies in gathering together and making available the means (of a sound health) and not in the means of a lengthy life.
When you become fully conversant with what we have previously mentioned and become aware of the article written in the magazine 'Al-Muqtataf' you will realize that God's statement in Sura 'Saffat' with regards to the story of Yunus (A.S.) is something customary: ---
'But had it not been that he was of those who glorify (Us),
He would certainly have carried in its belly to the day when they are raised'.
Thus it is possible for man to live in the depth of the sea till the Day of Judgement. Why shouldn't it be so when Allah has Power over all things.
The magazine 'Al-Muqtataf' in its third edition in the year 1359 published one article under the title 'DOES MAN LIVE IN THIS WORLD FOREVER' and has said: What is life and what is death? Is it that death has been destined for every living being!?
Every grain of wheat is a living substance having a place in its own cluster. That cluster too is grown from another grain and that grain too comes into existence from another cluster and so on. As such, prying into the history of six thousand or more years becomes easy. Grains of wheat which have been found amongst the remains of ancient Egyptians and Assyrians reveals this fact that ancient Egyptians and Assyrians used to sow wheat and make bread out of its four. The wheat which is available with us at present has not been created from «--» (i.e. nothing). Rather this wheat has come into existence from those ancient wheats in a concatenated manner. Thus this present wheat is one part of another living wheat and that one from another one and so on until it goes back to six or seven thousand years or rather hundreds of years.
These grains of wheat which turn into bread and do not have any movement and growth are in reality living entities like all other living creatures. Nothing is deficient in them but a little water. Thus life and existence of wheat have been for thousands of years - right from ancient times until now. This also applies to all types of plant possessing seed or fruit. Even the animals are not excluded from this rule. This is because all insects, fishes, birds, beasts, mosquitos and even human-beings who are the greatest of all creatures are reckoned to be a part of their own parents and their parents a part of their parents and so on.
Man leaves behind a generation and that generation is one living part from his own self just as the seed of one plant or tree is a part of that particular plant or tree. In this living part, there earnestly exists small particles like those particles which have given shape to the organs of parents and the organs of this part are the very food which he eats. Thus a date-seed becomes one tree which shall possess branches of leaves and dates and an olive-seed turns into a tree which shall have branches, leaves and fruits. All plants, eggs of insects, fishes, birds, beasts, mosquitos and even human beings can be infered in this manner.
All the afore-mentioned examples are so well-known that not even two persons can be found who are having dispute over it. Sometimes it happens that a tree itself lives for 1000 or 2000 years but man does not live for more than 70 or 80 years. In rare cases, he may live for 100 years and the gastric particles remain alive and grow in order to preserve the generation. However all the parts die as though death has been destined for them. Centuries have passed since man has thought of relieving himself from the claws of death or at least increasing his life-span. This is especially true so at present when man wishes to fight the various diseases and plagues with medicines. It has still not been ascertained that for example some one has lived for 100 years in recent times.
However, reliable scholars say:- The entire bodily-tissue of an animal is so endurable that it has no end and it is possible for man to live for thousands of years provided no accident severs his age. This opinion is not merely a conjecture. Rather it is something practical and has been confirmed by experiments.
One of the surgeons was able to cut off a part of an animal and then keep it alive for many years more than the animal itself could have habitually lived. That is to say, the very existence of that cut-off part finds connection with the nourishment that is given to it. Thus it is possible that that part may live for ever if ample of nourishment is given to it.
The afore-said surgeon is Doctor Kas Carell who is occupied in Rockfeller, New York. He conducted this experiment on one part of an embryo of a hen which that part grew and remained alive for more than eight years. The afore-said doctor and others like him have experimented on the human parts such as the organs, muscles, heart, skin and kidney and have come to this conclusion that the said parts develop and remain alive so long as they are given ample of nourishment.
Even Doctor Wimend Webrel who is amongst the Professors of 'Society of Junes Hiknes' says:
It has been proved through experiments that the parts of a human body remain in working order due to nourishing power. Since this saying is based on scientific findings it is highly explicit and significant. Apparently, the first person who conducted this test on the body and part of an animal was Doctor Jack Lup who was one of the surgeons of Rockfeller Hospital in New York. The said doctor tested the way of birth of a frog from those eggs which were not inseminated and came to this conclusion that amongst the eggs some remain alive for a long period while some die very soon. This incident, induced Doctor Jack to conduct once again this test on a frog and consequently succeeded in keeping alive these parts too for a long time.
Later Doctor Wern Luis and his wife proved that it is possible to keep the parts of a bird's foetus in salt-water and allowing them to live. When some organic substance is added to it, the said parts tend to grow and multiply. Successive tests have revealed that it is possible for the parts of any animal which is kept in salt-water to remain alive and grow provide d they are given food. However it is still not known whether those parts remain alive or not after turning old.
Afterwards, Doctor Carell embarked on further tests and proved that these parts do not bring senility in an animal. Rather the life-span of these parts is more than the normal life-span of the animal itself. The said doctor started his experiment in the year 1912 and on this path faced many problems until he and his assistants finally succeeded in proving the following points:
(1) The afore-said parts remain alive constantly provided they do not encounter certain occurances which destroys them like deficiency in food and entry of some of the microbes.
(2) These parts not only remain alive but grow and multiply just as they grow and multiply inside an animal's body.
(3) It is possible to know the measure of growth and increase of these parts and their relation with the nourishment given to them.
(4) Time has no effect on them. That is to say, these parts do not turn old and weak through the passage of time. Rather, the slight effect of senility is not produced for them. Moreover, these parts grow and multiply in the current year in the same manner which they used to grow and multiply in the previous years. All these internal things reveal that these parts grow and remain alive if proper care and food is provided to them. Therefore the main factor which causes death is inattentiveness and not senility.
So, what is the cause of man's death? Why is it that man does not live for more than hundred years and rather lives normally for only seventy or eighty years??!
We may reply as such: An animal's body possesses numerous and diverse parts and these parts have strong connection with each other. Not only this but the lives of some of them are dependent on the lives of others. Thus, when due to some reason or another, some of these parts turn weak and die, the other parts too die. Similarly it is the microbes which reduces man's age and restricts it to seventy or eighty years especially the number of human-beings who die during childhood. What has ultimately been concluded from tests and experiments is as such: The reason why man dies is not because he has completed seventy, eighty or hundred years but because the external factors enter some of his (internal) parts and kill and destroy them and since there exists a relation between these and other parts, the other parts too get destroyed.
Thus, whenever medical science becomes powerful enough to destroy these external factors or at least prevent them from influencing the parts of our body, there can be nothing which can stop man from living hundreds of years just as some species of trees live for these number of years. It is not far when medical science and hygienic mediums will attain this lofty achievement and consequently the number of people living an average life will increase or that they will live twice or thrice the normal age.(99)