A figure more legendary than that of the Mahdi, the
Awaited Saviour, has not been seen in the history of
mankind. The threads of the world events have woven many
a fine design in human life but the pattern of the Mahdi
stands high above every other pattern. He has been the
vision of the visionaries in history. He has been the
dream of all the dreamers of the world. For the ultimate
salvation of mankind he is the Pole Star of hope on
which the gaze of humanity is fixed.
The Qur'anic prophecy of the inevitable victory of Islam
will be realized following the advent of the Mahdi who
will fight the wrong, remedy the evils and establish a
world order based on the Islamic teachings of justice
and virtue. Thereafter there will be only one religion
and one government in the world.
It may be mentioned here that the movement for the
establishment of a world government is already afoot and
this point is engaging the attention of many prominent
intellectuals. The setting up of the United Nations is a
step in this very direction. In spite of the growing
consciousness of its desirability, the unification of
the world is still a distant dream. The vested interests
and the mutual rivalries of the regimes in the various
countries and the mutual animosities of the divergent
blocs constitute a big hurdle in the way of its
materialization. Hence, its consummation cannot be
expected to come off automatically. It will need the
active struggle of a world reformer in the person of
Mahdi. Anyhow, a start has been made and the things are
gradually turning out exactly as predicted by Islam
fourteen centuries ago.
The belief in an expected reformer and a saviour of
humanity is not peculiar to the Shi'ah School of Islam.
It is common not only to all the Muslim sects, but is
also shared by all the great religions such as
Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism.
In this quest for the truth about the Mahdi there is no
distinction of any caste, creed, or country. The quest
is universal, exactly in the same way as the Mahdi
himself is universal. He stands resplendent high above
the narrow walls in which humanity is cut up and
divided. He belongs to everybody. For all that and much
more, what exactly is the Mahdi? Surely that is the big
question which the thinking people all over the world
would like to ask.
It is only Islam that has given this concrete shape to
an abstract idea. The Mahdi is not to be born in the
distant future. He is already living amongst us and
shares our joys and sorrows: His appearance will mean
not only the materialization of an Islamic aspiration,
but will also be the realization of a hope cherished by
the entire humanity.
Prof. Henry Corbin of Sorbonne University, says:
"To my mind the Shi'ite is the only sect which has
preserved and perpetuated the link of Divine guidance
between man and God through its belief in the Imamate.
According to the Jews the Prophethood, a real link
between man and God, came to an end with Moses. They do
not believe in the Prophethood of Jesus and Muhammad.
The Christians too, do not go beyond Jesus. The Sunnite
sect has also stopped at the Prophet Muhammad and
believes that the link between man and God has been
severed with the end of the Prophethood".
It is only the Twelver Shi'ah who believe that the link
still exists through the Mahdi and will continue to
It is hardly necessary to give an explanation as to why
the Mahdi disappeared immediately after assuming the
Imamate. Let it suffice to say that Allah in His Divine
Wisdom ordained so.
In the meantime it is the duty of all the Muslims,
especially the Shi'ah, to strive steadfastly for the
creation of the proper atmosphere and the right climate
for the establishment of a world order based on justice,
virtue and piety. They should not only mould their
individual lives according to the teachings and high
ideals of Islam, but they should also bend their efforts
to set up the Islamic order on the collective and
communal level. They should devote themselves to the
service of the faith and be prepared to receive the
Awaited Saviour. That is what was meant by the Imams
when they exhorted the Muslims to keep on waiting for
An authentic and universally accepted Hadith
(tradition) reports the holy Prophet of Islam (Peace and
benediction be upon him and his infallible progeny) to
have said explicitly on several occasions that he would
be followed by twelve
to another version, twelve caliphs) the first of them
being Ali and the last Mahdi.
According to another reliable tradition he pinpointed
the personality to Imam Mahdi when he said that the
Mahdi would be a descendant of Imam Husayn in his ninth
In certain other traditions the holy Prophet referred,
in clear terms, to the last Imam's mission and narrated
the events connected with his occultation and
In this connection it is interesting to note, as pointed
out by the famous historian Tabari, that the reports
about the occultation of the Mahdi were recorded in
their books by the Shi'ah traditionalists during the
lifetime of Imam Baqir and Imam Sadiq i.e. long before
Imam Mahdi was born. This fact alone is enough to vouch
for their genuineness.
The Sunnite scholars have also mentioned and recorded
hundreds of traditions about the Mahdi in more than
seventy books by their own valued and dependable
authorities of which we shall mention a few examples.
Ahmad b. Hanbal (d. 241 A.H.)
Sahih Bukhari -
Muhammad b. Ism'ail Bukhari (d. 256 A.H.)
-Muslim b. Hajjaj Nishapuri (d.261 A.H.)
Sunan Abi Dawud -
Sulayman b. Ash'ath Sijistani (d. 275 A.H.)
-Muhammad b. Isa Tirmizi (d. 279A.H.)
The authors of the above books, each one of them, died
either before or shortly after Mahdi's birth.
The other facts which can be gleaned from the prophecies
of the holy Prophet about the Mahdi are briefly stated
He will bear the same nomenclature as the holy
He will not be bearing allegiance to any tyrant.
He will fill the earth with justice and fair play
after its having been filled with injustice and
At the time of his advent he will be found leaning
against the wall of the Ka'bah. He will call
together his 313 supporters who will respond to his
call and gather around him. Then he will lead the
He will establish Islamic law in the whole world.
On his second advent Jesus will offer prayers behind
According to the Islamic traditions Jesus will descend
from the heaven and espouse the cause of the Mahdi. The
Christians and the Jews will see him and recognize his
true status. The Christians will abandon their faith in
his godhead. The holy Qur'an says:
"There shall be none among the People of the Scripture,
but will believe in him (Jesus) before his death; and on
the Day of Resurrection be will be a witness against
(Surah al-Nisa, 4:159)
Evidently at that time Jesus will not be following the
Christian law which has already been repealed. He will
be following the Mahdi, the master of the time, and that
is why he will be offering prayers behind him.
According to a tradition recorded in the celebrated
books of the tradition, including the Sahih Bukhari and
the Sahih Muslim, the Prophet is reported to have said:
"How about you, when Mary's son will descend into your
midst, while your Imam will be from among you?".
Here the word Imam refers to Imam Mahdi. This tradition
clearly shows that Jesus at the time of his second
advent, will be a follower of the Mahdi.
According to these and many other prophecies handed down
by the holy Prophet and the great Imams to the
succeeding generations, Imam Mahdi was born in the city
of Samarrah (Iraq) in the middle of the month of Sha'ban
in 255 A.H. His mother's name was Narjis.
He succeeded to the Imamate at the early age of five on
the death of his father, Imam Hasan al-Askari, the
Soon afterwards he went into occultation from the scene
of life but retained contact with his followers through
his vicegerents. This period which spreads over 70 years
is known as al-Ghaybat al-Sughra, the period of
During this period the people could refer their problems
to him and receive his replies through his vicegerents.
The minor occultation was followed by al-Ghaybat
al-Kubra, the major occultation which still
continues. During this period direct contact with him
had been severed.
Anyhow, those who are aware of the historical conditions
prevailing at the time of his occultation know well that
the Abbasid rulers regarded the Mahdi as the biggest
potential threat to themselves and their dynasty and
were determined to remove him from their way. at any
cost. Hence, to foil an attempt on his life, it was
advisable for him to go into occultation. Several
sayings of the Imams expressly refer to this situation.
The Mahdi is alive. He visits different places and takes
an intelligent interest in world events. He often
attends the assemblies of the faithful but does not
disclose his true identity.
He will reappear on the appointed day, and then he will
fight against the forces of evil, lead a world
revolution and set up a new world order based on
justice, righteousness and virtue as you will
read in detail in this book.
The holy Qur'an has clearly promised that a day is to
come when truth will prevail and the righteous will come
to power. We quote here a few verses:
"Indeed We have written in the Psalms after the Torah
bad been given: The earth will be inherited by Our
(Surah al-Anbiyah, 21:105)
'Allah has promised those of you who believe and do good
deeds that He will surely make them successors on the
earth as He made those who were before them and that He
will surely establish their religion which He has chosen
(Surah al-Noor, 24: 55)
"They wish to put out the light of Allah with their
breaths (propagation) but Allah will perfect His light,
howsoever much the disbelievers may be averse. It is He
who has sent His messenger with the guidance and the
religion of truth to make it prevail over every other
religion, howsoever much the disbelievers may be averse"
(Surah al-Tauba, 9:32 33)
It is clear from these verses that ultimately the
righteous will take the world administration in their
hands and Islam will be victorious over all the
Shaykh Yusufali Nafsi
al-Baghwi (d. 516 A.H.); Jame' al-Usul,
Ibn Athir (d. 606 AH.); al-Futuhat al-Makkiyyah, Muhyuddin ibn al-Arabi (d. 638 A.H.);
Tazkirah al-Khawas, Sibt ibn al-Jawzi (d.
654 A.H.); Fara'id al-Simtayn, al-Hamawi
(d. 716 AH.); al-Sawa'iq, Ibn Hajar
Haythami al-'Asqalani (d. 973 A.H.); Yanabi
al-Mawaddah, Sulayman al-Qandozi (d. 1293
Some of the Sunnite scholars have written books
especially about the Imam of the Age.
(i) Al-Bayan fi Akhbar al-Sahib al-Zaman,
AIlamah Abu Abdillah b. Muhammad Yusuf al-Kanji
(ii) Iqd al-Durar fi Akhbar al-Imam al-Muntazar,
Shaykh Jamaluddin Yusuf al-Damishqi.
(iii) Mahdi Ale Rasul, Ah ibn Sultan
Muhammad al-Harawi al-Hanafi.
(iv) Kitab al-Mahdi, Abu Daud.
(v) Alamat al-Mahdi, Jalaluddin Suyuti.
(vi) Manaqib al-Mahdi,
Hafiz Abu Na'im al-Isfahani.
(vii) Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi 'alamat al-Mahdi
al-Muntazar, Ibn Hajar Haythami.
(viii) Al-Burhan fi 'alamat al-Mahdi Akhir
al-Zaman, Mulla Ali al-Muttaqi.