A common belief amongst communities existing on earth is the belief that this world is not created by God to be ruled by the evil people. God has promised His servants that there would be a time when His chosen and righteous creatures will rule over this earth. This saviour of mankind is also referred to as “Messiah” in religious scriptures. Thus, the concept of Mahdism is similar to the concept of Messianism which is the belief in a messiah, a savior or redeemer.
Many religions have a messiah concept, including the Jewish Messiah, the Christian Christ, the Muslim Mahdi and Isa (Arabic name for Jesus), the Buddhist Maitreya, the Hindu Kalki and the Zoroastrian Saoshyant. The state of the world is seen as hopelessly flawed beyond normal human powers of correction, and without divine intervention, it cannot be made correct. In Jewish scriptures he is named as Mashiach ben (son of) David and Mashiach ben (son of) Yosef. The Christians believe that this person is Jesus Christ himself, while Hindus and Sikhs believe that it would be a person who would kill and destroy Kalki, an avatar of Vishnu. Similarly, in Islamic scriptures, this messiah is called as MAHDI.
The word MAHDI in Arabic literally means “the guided one”. Meaning The one who is guided by Almighty ALLAH. In Islamic terminology, this word is used specifically for a personality who is the prophesied redeemer of Islam. Thus, MAHDI is someone, guided by ALLAH to rule over His creatures by His help and execute His laws and constitution. This person will rid the earth of all types of evil rules and fill the earth with justice and equality.
MAHDI IN ISLAMIC SCRIPTURES:
Quran is the source of all Islamic beliefs. Any idea or opinion not supported by the Holy Quran is considered un-Islamic. This belief of Mahdism is a deeply rooted Islamic belief. To support their claim, Islamic scholars have quoted these quranic verses.
1. Holy Qur’an 21: 105
— وَلَقَدْ كَتَبْنَا فِي الزَّبُورِ مِن بَعْدِ الذِّكْرِ أَنَّ الْأَرْضَ يَرِثُهَا عِبَادِيَ الصَّالِحُونَ
— Before this We wrote in the Psalms, after the Message (given to Moses): My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the earth.
— – Ardh is the earth and the verse concerns people who have faith in general.
— – The virtuous members of the Community are being referred to here; it is said that, at the End of Time, the Umma of the Prophet under the leadership of MAHDI will conquer the earth and its unbelievers, and will rule it.
2. Holy Qur’an 24: 55
— وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُم فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّن بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا يَعْبُدُونَنِي لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ
— Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion, the one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace: ‘They will worship Me (alone) and not associate aught with Me. ‘If any do reject Faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked.
— From the sayings of the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt, it is reported that it concerns the Mahdi from the Prophet’s descendants. The fourth Imam, Ali ibn Husain a.s., once recited this verse and said: “By God, these people are our Shi’ites about whom God will accomplish all the promises he made in this verse by the hands of a man from among us, who is the Mahdi of this Community.”
3) Holy Qur’an 9: 33
— هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَى وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ
— It is He Who hath sent His Messenger with guidance and the Religion of Truth, to proclaim it over all religion, even though the Pagans may detest (it).
— Shaykh Tabarsi reports from Dhahhak that the expression “liyuzhirahu ‘ala al-din kullihi” (“to proclaim it over all religion”) refers to the time of the descent of ‘Isa ibn Maryam on the earth when the followers of all religions will become Muslims.
— He then reports a tradition from Imam Baqir (fifth Imam) that this event will occur during the time of the reappearance of the Mahdi from the progeny of the Prophet when there will be no one left on the earth who did not accept the message of the Prophet Muhammad.
Mahdism in Sunni Islam
The Sunnis view the Mahdi as the successor of prophet Mohammad(s.a.w.a). The Mahdi is expected to arrive to rule the world and to reestablish righteousness.
The Mahdi is frequently mentioned in Sunni hadith as establishing the caliphate. Among Sunnis, some believe the Mahdi will be an ordinary man.
- The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (s.a.w.a) said:
The world will not come to an end until the Arabs are ruled by a man from my family whose name is the same as mine and whose father’s name is the same as my father’s. (Sunan e Abi Dawood 11:370)
In above statement is clear that his rule is bound to be established before the day of judgement. Also, in the statement above his name and family is also indicated.
- The wife of holy prophet, Umm Salama said:
His [the Mahdi’s] aim is to establish a moral system from which all superstitious faiths have been eliminated. In the same way, that students enter Islam, so unbelievers will come to believe.
(Vizier Mustafa, Emergence of Islam, p. 171)
When the Mahdi appears, Allah will cause such power of vision and hearing to be manifested in believers that the Mahdi will call to the whole world from where he is, with no postman involved, and they will hear and even see him. (Muntakhabul athar pg:483)
The above tradition tells us about the state of his rule and effectiveness of his rulership where he will be easily accessible to all his masses.
- A companion of Holy Prophet, Abu Sa`id al-Khudri said:
The Messenger of Allah said: “He is one of us […]”
(Reported by Abu Na’eem in Akhbaar al-Mahdi, see al-Jaami’ al-Sagheer, 5: 219, hadith 5796.)
The Messenger of Allah said: “The Mahdi is of my lineage, with a high forehead and a long, thin, curved nose. He will fill the earth with fairness and justice as it was filled with oppression and injustice, and he will rule for seven years.(Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitaab al-Mahdi,
11: 375 hadith4265; Mustadrak al-Hakim, 4: 557)
The Messenger of Allah said: “At the end of the time of my ummah, the Mahdi will appear. Allah will grant him rain, the earth will bring forth its fruits, he will give a lot of money, cattle will increase and the ummah will become great. He will rule for seven or eight years.
(Mustadrak al-Hakim, 4: 557-558; “he said: this is a hadith whose isnaad is sahih, although it was not reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim. Al-Dhahabi agreed with him, and al-Albaani said: this is a saheeh sanad, and its men are thiqaat (trustworthy), Silsilat al-ahadith al-saheehah,” 2: 336, hadeeth 771)
In the above report among other things, his physical characteristics are also specified. Also, the grace of Allah being showered on his kingdom is presented in this report.
In their most reliable book Sahih Bukhari it is Narrated by Abu Hurairah:
Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until the son of Maryam descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizya tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it.”
Here the descend of Jesus is mentioned as one the factors in his rule and the abundance of wealth in the hands of masses is also a peculiarity of his rule.
These and many traditional reports indicate various aspects of his rule. Thus, a large number of traditions prove that the belief of Mahdism in Sunni books. In fact, there are special books written on this topic. Following conclusions can be drawn about MAHDI from these traditions from Sunni books:
- His identity is clearly mentioned as an Arab.
- He is from the family of Prophet (s.a.w.a.)
- His name and his fathers’ name is also pointed out.
- His physical features are also reported.
- He will eradicate all forms of injustice and fill the earth with justice and equality.
- His rule on earth will certainly be established before the day of judgement.
- He will establish Islam as a universal religion.
- During his rule, believers will rejoice in Allah’s mercy.
- His rule would be assisted and blessed with divine grace.
Mahdism in Twelver Shi’ism (Ithna Ashaari):
Belief in the Mahdi is more prevalent in Shi’ite Islam. They believe him to be the Twelfth Imam who is in occultation until he returns at the end of time.
Twelver Shia Muslims believe that the Mahdi is the Twelfth Imam, who was born in 869 and was hidden by God at the age of five (874). He is still alive but has been in occultation, “awaiting the time that God has decreed for his return,” When it comes he promised that no one who wanted happiness would be denied and no one who had believed will be left behind.
“And certainly We wrote in the Book after the reminder that as for the land, My righteous servants shall inherit it.” (Holy Quran 21:105)
“O Allah, (please do) make me of his supporters, defenders, and those who hurry in carrying out his instructions, those who comply with his orders, and those who will be martyred before him. Hasten! Hasten! O my Master, O Master of the Era.” (Extract from Dua Ahad)