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In Islamic eschatology, the Mahdi (//; Arabic: مهدي, ISO 233: mahdī, English: Guided One) is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will rule for seven, nine or nineteen years (according to differing interpretations) before the Day of Judgment (yawm al-qiyamah / literally, the Day of Resurrection) and will rid the world of evil.
According to Islamic tradition, the Mahdi's tenure will coincide with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Isa), who is to assist the Mahdi against the Masih ad-Dajjal (literally, the "false Messiah" or Antichrist). Jesus, who is considered the Masih (Messiah) in Islam, will descend at the point of a white arcade, east of Damascus, dressed in yellow robes with his head anointed. He will then join the Mahdi in his war against the Dajjal, where Jesus will slay Dajjal and unite mankind. Sahih Muslim, 41:7023
Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until the son of Maryam (Jesus) descends amongst you as a just ruler; he will break the cross, kill the swine, and abolish the Jizya tax. Wealth will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it."
- 1 Historical development
- 2 Mahdi in Sunni Islam
- 3 Mahdi in Twelver Shi'ism
- 4 Ahmadiyya Viewpoint
- 5 Mahdavia Viewpoint
- 6 Persons claiming to be the Mahdi
- 7 Mahdi coauthorship controversy
- 8 Possible Biblical interpretations
- 9 Mahdi in Sikhism
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Bibliography
- 13 External links
Even though Mahdism is an important part of Sunni and Shi’ite literature, it appears that Mahdism entered Islam from Judeo-Christian teachings. Maccabean revolt might have been the historical setting for the birth of Messianism which was passed on to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. During the life of Muhammad (570-632) there remained a lack for a distinctive Islamic savior figure as evidenced with the lack of any clear indication in Quran or earlier Hadith collections, how ever within half a century of Muhammad’s death, the position was filled by the figure of the Mahdi..
The second civil war (680-692) marks the true birth of the messianic figure of Mahdi. The term Mahdi was first used in a messianic sense during the rebellion of Al-Mukhtar in Kufa in 683 in reference to Muhammad al-Hanafiyyah. By the time of the Abbasid revolution in the year 750, Mahdism was already a known concept. Evidence shows that the first Abbasid caliph assumed the title of the Mahdi for himself. Many traditions were introduced to support political interests, especially Anti-Abbassid sentiments, for example Mahdi coming will be accompanied by the raising of a black standard in Khurasan. It appears to have been introduced to prove the genuiness and credibilities of Sarbadarid dynasty (1337–61) whose capital was Khurasan and the colour of their flag was black or the pure soul will be assassinated. Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya, also known as ‘pure soul’ was a descendent of Imam Hasan and a chief rebel against Abbassids and was assassinated.
The Mahdi appeared in early Shi’ite narratives, spread widely among Shi’ite groups and became dissociated from its historical figure, Muhammad al-Hanafiyyah. It is unquestionable that the idea of the hidden Imam was projected upon several Imams in turn. During the 10th century, based on the doctrinal ground that had been laid in previous generations, the doctrine of Mahdism was extensively expanded by Al-Kulayni, Ibrahim al-Qumi and Ibn Babwayhi. In Shi’ism the crystallization of the doctrine of Occultation occurs in about 912 (The doctrine of the Occultation declares that the Twelfth Imam did not die but has been concealed by God from the eyes of men). The Hidden Imam, the Mahdi, is in occultation awaiting the time that God has ordered for his return. This return is envisaged as occurring shortly before the final Day of judgment.
Mahdi in Sunni Islam
The Sunnis view the Mahdi as the successor of Muhammad. The Mahdi is expected to arrive to rule the world and to reestablish righteousness.
The Mahdi is not described in the Qurʾān but only in hadith, with scholars suggesting that he arose when some Arabian tribes were settling in Syria under Mo’awiya. “They anticipated ‘the Mahdi who will lead the rising people of the Yemen ( or Qahtani Arabs) back to their country’ in order to restore the glory of their lost Himyarite kingdom. It was believed that he would eventually conquer Constantinople.”
The Kaysāniya extended two other notions that became thoroughly related with the belief in the Mahdi. The first was the notion of return of the dead, particularly of the Imams. The second was the indication of occultation. “When Moḥammad b. al-Ḥanafiya died in 700, the Kaysāniya maintained that he was in occultation in the Raẓwā mountains west of Medina, and would one day return as the Mahdi and the Qāʾem.”
The appearance of the Prophet was also proposed unto the Mahdi. “An enormously influential tradition attributed to ʿAbd-Allāh b. Masʿud has Moḥammad predicting the coming of a Mahdi coined in his own image: ‘His name will be my name, and his father’s name my father’s name’” 
Predominant school of thought
The Mahdi is frequently mentioned in Sunni hadith as establishing the caliphate. Among Sunnis, some believe the Mahdi will be an ordinary man.
- It is narrated from Muhammad about Mahdi as such:
Even if the entire duration of the world’s existence has already been exhausted and only one day is left before Doomsday, Allah will expand that day to such length of time as to accommodate the kingdom of a person from my Ahlul-Bayt who will be called by my name. He will fill out the earth with peace and justice as it will have been full of injustice and tyranny (by then). 
- Umm Salama, a wife of Muhammad, is quoted as saying:
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.
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.
I heard the Messenger of Allah say: "The Mahdi is of my lineage and family".
- Abu Sa`id al-Khudri said:
The Messenger of Allah said: "He is one of us".
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.
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.
A typical modernist in his views on the Mahdi, Abul Ala Maududi (1903–1979), the Pakistani Islamic revivalist, stated that the Mahdi will be a modern Islamic reformer/statesman, who will unite the Ummah and revolutionise the world according to the ideology of Islam, but will never claim to be the Mahdi, instead receiving posthumous recognition as such.
Rejection of the Mahdi
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi writes in his Mizan:
Besides these, the coming of the Mahdi and that of Jesus from the heavens are also regarded as signs of the Day of Judgment. I have not mentioned them. The reason is that the narratives of the coming of the Mahdi do not conform to the standards of hadith criticism set forth by the muhaddithun. Some of them are weak and some fabricated; no doubt, some narratives, which are acceptable with regard to their chain of narration, inform us of the coming of a generous caliph; (Muslim, No: 7318) however, if they are deeply deliberated upon, it becomes evident that the caliph they refer to is Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz who was the last caliph from a Sunni standpoint. This prediction of the Prophet has thus materialized in his personality, word for word. One need not wait for any other Mahdi now.
Characteristics from Sunni sources
- Ali Ibn Abi Talib quoted Muhammad as saying:
The Mahdi is one of us, the clan of the Prophet. God will reform him in one night, and will have a broad forehead, a prominent nose and a mark on his right cheek. (Reported by Imam Ahmad and Ibn Maqah)
- At-Tirmidhi reported that Muhammad said:
The Mahdi is from my Ummah; he will be born and live to rule five or seven or nine years. (If) one goes to him and says, "Give me (a charity)", he will fill one’s garment with what one needs.
- Abu Dawud also reported a hadith about the Mahdi that Muhammad said:
The Mahdi will be of my stock, and will have a broad forehead, a prominent nose and a mark on his right cheek. He will fill the earth with equity and justice as it was filled with oppression and tyranny, and he will rule for seven years.
- At-Tirmidhi reported that Muhammad said:
The face of the Mahdi shall shine upon the surface of the Moon.
Mahdi in Twelver Shi'ism
According to some Qur’ânic exegetes a number of Qur’ânic verses refer to al-Mahdî, for example in verse 11:86 the word baqiyatallah has been understood to be one of the Mahdî's titles. Similarly, according to some viewpoints, verses 43:61, 9:32, and 24:55 are also indicative of the Mahdî.
According to Moojan Momen, among the most commonly reported signs that presage the advent of the Mahdi in Shia Islam are the following:
- The vast majority of people who profess to be Muslim will be so only in name despite their practice of Islamic rites and it will be they who make war with the Mahdi.
- Before his coming will come the red death and the white death, killing two thirds of the world's population. The red death signifies violence and the white death is plague. One third of the world's population will die from the red death and the other third from the white death.
- Several figures will appear: the one-eyed Antichrist (Masih ad-Dajjal), the Al-Harth, Al-Mansur, Shuaib bin Saleh and the Sufyani.
- There will be a great conflict in the land of Syria, until it is destroyed.
- Death and fear will afflict the people of Baghdad and `Iraq. A fire will appear in the sky and a redness will cover them.
Other hadith about the Mahdî
According to Moojan Momen, Shia traditions state that the Mahdi be "a young man of medium stature with a handsome face" and black hair and beard. "He will not come in an odd year [...] will appear in Mecca between the corner of the Kaaba and the station of Abraham and people will witness him there.
The Twelfth Imam will return as the Mahdi with "a company of his chosen ones," and his enemies will be led by the one-eyed Antichrist and the Sufyani. The two armies will fight "one final apocalyptic battle" where the Mahdi and his forces will prevail over evil. After the Mahdi has ruled Earth for a number of years, Isa will return.
The dominion (authority) of the Mahdi is one of the proofs that God has created all things; these are so numerous that his [the Mahdi's] proofs will overcome (will be influential, will be dominant) everyone and nobody will have any counter-proposition against him.
People will flee from him [the Mahdi] as sheep flee from the shepherd. Later, people will begin to look for a purifier. But since they can find none to help them but him, they will begin to run to him.
When matters are entrusted to competent [the Mahdi], Almighty God will raise the lowest part of the world for him, and lower the highest places. So much that he will see the whole world as if in the palm of his hand. Which of you cannot see even a single hair in the palm of his hand?
In the time of the Mahdi, a Muslim in the East will be able to see his Muslim brother in the West, and he in the West will see him in the East.
The Master of the Command was named as the Mahdi because he will dig out the Torah and other heavenly books from the cave in Antioch. He will judge among the people of the Torah according to the Torah; among the people of the Gospel according to the Gospel; among the people of the Psalms in accordance with the Psalms; among the people of the Qur'an in accordance with the Qur'an.
Ja'far al-Sadiq, the Sixth Imam, made the following prophecies:
Abu Bashir says: When I asked Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, "O son of the Messenger of God! Who is the Mahdi (qa'im) of your clan (ahl al-bayt)?", he replied: "The Mahdi will conquer the world; at that time the world will be illuminated by the light of God, and everywere in which those other than God are worshipped will become places where God is worshiped; and even if the polytheists do not wish it, the only faith on that day will be the religion of God.
Sadir al-Sayrafi says: I heard from Imam Abu Abdullah Ja'far al-Sadiq that: Our modest Imam, to whom this occultation belongs [the Mahdi], who is deprived of and denied his rights, will move among them and wander through their markets and walk where they walk, but they will not recognize him ().
Abu Bashir says: I heard Imam Muhammad al-Baqr say: "He said: When the Mahdi appears he will follow in the path of the Messenger of God. Only he [the Mahdi] can explain the works of the Messenger of God.
The face of the Mahdi shall shine upon the surface of the Moon.
In Ahmadiyya, the terms "Messiah" and "Mahdi" are synonymous terms for one and the same person. Like the term Messiah which, among other meanings, in essence means being anointed by God or appointed by God the term "Mahdi" means guided by God, thus both imply a direct ordainment and a spiritual nurturing by God of a divinely chosen individual. According to Ahmadiyya thought, Messiahship is a phenomenon, through which a special emphasis is given on the transformation of a people by way of offering suffering for the sake of God instead of giving suffering (i.e. refraining from revenge). Ahmadi Muslims believe that this special emphasis was given through the person of Jesus and Mirza Ghulam Ahmad  among others.
These Muslims hold that the prophesied eschatological figures of various religions, the coming of the Messiah and Mahdi in fact were to be fulfilled in one person who was to represent all previous prophets.
Mahdavia is a sect within Islam, founded by Hazrath Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri commonly known as Nur Pak claimed to be Imam Mahdi in Mecca, right in front of Kaaba (between rukn and maqam) in the Hijri year 901(10th Hijri), and is revered as such by Mahdavia. Syed Muhammad Bin Abdullah was born in Jaunpur, traveled throughout India, Arabia and Khorasan, where he died at the town of Farah, Afghanistan at the age of 63. The Mahdavi regard Jaunpuri as the Imam Mahdi, the Caliph of Allah and the second most important figure after the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Persons claiming to be the Mahdi
Various individuals have claimed to be the Mahdi. Similar to the notion of a Messiah in the Judeo-Christian religions, the notion of a Mahdi as a redeemer to establish a society has lent itself to various interpretations leading to different claims within minorities or by individuals within Islam.
- The first historical reference to a movement using the name of Mahdi is al-Mukhtar's rebellion against the Umayyad caliphate in 686 CE, almost 50 years after Muhammad's death. Al-Mukhtar claimed that Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, a son of the fourth caliph and first Shia imam, Ali, was the Mahdi and would save the Muslim people from the rule of the Umayyads. Ibn al-Hanifiyyah himself was not actively involved in the rebellion, and when the Umayyads successfully quashed it, they left him undisturbed.
- Muhammad Jaunpuri (1443–1505), founder of the Mahdavi sect, was born in Jaunpur in northeastern India (in the modern-day state of Uttar Pradesh), a descendant of the imam Husayn through Musa al-Kadhim. He claimed to be the Mahdi on three occasions, first in Mecca and then in two places in India, attracting a large following, although opposed by the ulema. He died at the age of 63 in the year 1505 at Farah, Afghanistan, and is buried in a sanctuary there. He ruled for seven years before his death
- Ahmed ibn Abi Mahalli (1559–1613), from the south of Morocco, was a cadi and religious scholar who proclaimed himself mahdi and lead a revolution (1610–13) against the reigning Saadi dynasty.
- Mahamati Prannath (1618–1694), from the Gujarat of India, was an influential religious leader who proclaimed himself mahdi.
- The Báb, (Siyyid Ali Muhammad) claimed to be the Mahdi in 1844 A.D (in the year 1260 A.H), thereby founding the religion of Bábism. He was later executed by firing squad in the town of Tabriz. His remains are currently kept in a tomb at the Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa, Israel. The Báb is considered the forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh, and both are considered prophets of the Bahá'í Faith. The declaration by the Báb to be the Mahdi is considered by Baha'is to be the beginning of the Bahá'í calendar.
- Muhammad Ahmad (1845–1885), a Sudanese Sufi sheikh of the Samaniyya order, declared himself Mahdi in June 1881 and went on to lead a successful military campaign against the Turko-Egyptian government of Sudan. Although he died shortly after capturing the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, in 1885, the Mahdist state continued under his successor, Abdallahi ibn Muhammad, until 1898, when it fell to the British army following the Battle of Omdurman.
- Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908) claimed to be both the Mahdi and the second coming of Jesus in the late nineteenth century in British India. He founded the Ahmadiyya religious movement in 1889, which, although considered by its followers to be Islam in its pure form, is not recognized as such by the majority of mainstream Muslims. In 1974, the Pakistani parliament adopted a law declaring the Ahmadis to be non-Muslims. Since Ghulam Ahmad's death, the Ahmadiyya community has been led by his successors and has grown considerably.
- In the twentieth century, Muhammad bin abd Allah al-Qahtani was proclaimed the Mahdi by his brother-in-law, Juhayman al-Otaibi, who led over 200 militants to seize the Grand Mosque in Mecca in November 1979. The uprising was defeated after a two-week siege in which at least 300 people were killed.
A number of people have been claimed to be the Mahdi by their followers or supporters, including:
- Muhammad ibn Abdallah An-Nafs Az-Zakiyya
- Muhammad ibn Abdullah al-Aftah ibn Ja'far al-Sadiq
- Ja'far al-Sadiq (according to the Tawussite Shia)
- Musa al-Kadhim (according to the Waqifite Shia)
- Muhammad ibn Qasim (al-Alawi)
- Yahya ibn Umar
- Muhammad ibn Ali al-Hadi
- Riaz Ahmed Gohar Shahi (according to Messiah Foundation International)
- Diponegoro, Javanese prince during the Java War
- Wallace Fard Muhammad, founder of the Nation of Islam
In 2011, an academic paper on polymers appeared in the journal Macromolecular Research (co-published with Springer), claiming to be written by Mahdi Moeud Ajjalallah (literally, "The promised Mahdi, may God hasten [his appearance]", as the first author, and Mohammad Reza Rostami Daronkola, as the second author. Another paper with the same two authors was published online by Journal of Polymer Research, published by Springer Netherlands. Rostami Daronkola, a former Assistant Professor at Tarbiat Modares University, when asked about the inserted coauthor, said "Why shouldn't the Imam of the Time, who is omnipresent, be present at chemistry labs?" Tarbiat Modares University has protested the publication of the article, calling the act "offensive". The faculty members of the university have also asked for a retraction of the article, saying that the name of the university has been "abused".
Possible Biblical interpretations
In their book, Al Mahdi and the End of Time, Muhammad ibn Izzat and Muhammad Arif, two well-known Egyptian authors, identify the Mahdi in the Book of Revelation, quoting the hadith narrator Ka'ab al-Ahbar.
In one place, they write,
“I find the Mahdi recorded in the books of the Prophets... For instance, the Book of Revelation says: “And I saw and behold a white horse. He that sat on him [...] went forth conquering and to conquer.”
Ibn Izzat and Arif then go on to say:
Mahdi in Sikhism
In Dasam Granth, the Sikh scripture attributed to the tenth Sikh guru Guru Gobind Singh prophesizes the Mahdi (referred to as "Mahdi Meer") to be born for a purpose of defeating Kalki, an avatar of Vishnu. As Kalki becomes egoistic and begins referring to himself as the Almighty, the powerful Mahdi will slay him and rule the world. The unmanifested Brahman kills Mahdi by creating an insect, which goes into Mahdi's ear and kills him.
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- Mahdi Moeud Ajjalallah; Mohammad Reza Rostami Daronkola (April 19, 2011). "Total spectral assignments and 2D NMR study of PVAc-b-PMA and PVAc-b-PMMA block copolymers". Journal of Polymer Research (Springer Netherlands). doi:10.1007/s10965-011-9598-2. ISSN 1022-9760.
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- Mahdi, The Caliph of Allah Biographies, Teachings, Qur'anic Ayah and Ahadith in Proofs about Imam Mahdi, testimonials and much more.
- Mahdi – an article on Encyclopædia Britannica Online
- An Analysis of the Time of Imam Mahdi
- A supportive view of the belief of the Mahdi at Sunni-oriented islam-qa.com
- A critical look at the belief in the Mahdi at Qurannic-oriented understanding-islam.com
- Followers of Imam Mahdi