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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 various interpretations) before the Day of Judgment (yawm al-qiyamah / literally, the Day of Resurrection) and will rid the world of evil.
Isa (Jesus Christ) will return to aid Mahdi, or the guided one, against Masih ad-Dajjal, the false messiah, and his followers. He 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. Isa will slay Dajjal, and unite humanity. Sahih Muslim, 41:7023
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 swine, and abolish the Jizya tax. Wealth will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it."
- 1 Mahdism in Sunni Islam
- 2 Mahdi in Mahdavia
- 3 Mahdism in Twelver Shi'ism
- 4 Quran and Hadiths on Mahdi
- 5 Ahmadiyya Viewpoint
- 6 Possible Biblical interpretations
- 7 People claiming to be the Mahdi
- 8 Mahdi coauthorship controversy
- 9 Modern Views
- 10 Mahdi in Sikhism
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Bibliography
- 14 External links
Mahdism in Sunni Islam
The Sunnis view the Mahdi as the successor of Mohammad. 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 extented 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 predict 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’” 
First 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.
- Muhammad 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.
- 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.
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.(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 Mahdavia
Mahdavia is a sect within Islam, founded by Hazrath Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri in India in the 15th century CE. Jaunpuri declared himself to be the Imam Mahdi, the prophesied redeemer in Islam, and the denomination takes its name from the term mahdi ("guided"). The Mahdavi regard Jaunpuri as the Imam Mahdi, the Caliph of Allah and the second most important figure after the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
Mahdism in Twelver Shi'ism
Belief in the Mahdi is more prevalent in Shi'ite Islam. Twelvers believe him to be the Twelfth Imam who is in occultation until he returns at the end of time. Mahdism in Twelver Shiʿism takes many of its essentials from previous sacred trends. According to the customary date most often taken, Imam Ḥasan ʿAskari, the eleventh Imam, died in 874. His death, like that of the preceding Imams, gave rise to an age of commotion among the faithful, but this phase the calamity appeared even more solemn and the Imamis did not themselves waver to plea the eras that were to trail “the period of perplexity” or “confusion”.
The cryptic destiny of the assumed son of the eleventh Imam led to numerous rifts with prominent doctrinal adjustments. Some groups claimed that his son died at a very early age, others that he had survived until a certain age and then died, and still others solely denied his very reality, considering that Ḥasan ʿAskari never had a son. Only a small minority sustained the notion that the son of the eleventh imam was alive, that he was in “occultation”, and that he was to recur as mahdi at the end of time. This idea was progressively accepted by all Imamis, who accordingly became known as “Twelvers”. Sources from this era replicate, in their specific method, the hesitation and crisis believers experienced. A close study of these sources definitely seems to display that thoughtful hesitations and serious gaps occurred concerning a significant number of vital doctrinal fundamentals that became articles of faith.
There are many theories to about the twelve Imam. There are sources that attribute two dissimilar formations of the occultation to Mahdi. According to the first, mentioned by Ebn Bābuya, the Hidden Imam “exists in the world by his spiritual substance thanks to a subsisting essence” 
According to another theory stated by Ebn Nadim, Abu Sahl is said to have kept that the twelfth Imam died, but covertly left behind a son as a descendant to him; the heredity of Imams would therefore be preserved in occultation from father to son until the last Imam reveals himself publicly as the Mahdi. Ultimately, none of the theories were continued, but here one distinguishes uncertain struggles to justify the notion of occultation. Everything of this inclines to show that through this stage of development, the Imami community experienced what one might deliberate an attentive identity predicament. This “time of confusion” is one of exploratory in the dark, of study, improvement, and the more or less tender formation of dogmas related to the power and legitimacy of the twelfth Imam. These doctrines were faced with, and overpowered, much confrontation before finally standing as articles of faith.
- Birth and occultation of the Mahdi
The eschatological Redeemer of Imamism is presented as Abu’l-Qāsem Moḥammad b. Ḥasan al-ʿAskari, twelfth and final among the Imams. He thus bears the identical title and konya as the Prophet, therefore satisfying the hadith that perhaps go back to ʿAṣem b. Bahdala from Kufa. It certainly owes its beginning to Moḵtār’s revolt in service of Moḥammad b. al-Ḥanafiya, son of ʿAli, who, once when he was called as Mahdi, stated that his honor entailed in bearing the same forename and konya as the Prophet . Nonetheless, it was imprudent to call the Mahdi by his title, according to a prohibition attributed to several among the imams, the intention of which was to defend the Protector from the danger modeled by the ʿAbbasid. This also mirrored doubts that evaluated upon the personality of the Mahdi.
According to particular explanations, Mahdi’s mother, to whom numerous names are specified (Narjis, Rayḥāna, Sawsan, Maryam), was a black slave of Nubian origin; according to other interpretations, undeniably well-known and hagiographic, she was the granddaughter of the Byzantine ruler, himself adherent of the Apostle Simon. According to this account, the Byzantine princess was taken by Muslim troops and traded as a slave in Baghdad to a man belonging to the entourage of the tenth Imam, ʿAli al-Naqi who then came to Sāmarrāʾ and presented the girl to Ḥakima, the latter’s sister. Even before her confinement, the princess had a vision of Mary, mother of Jesus, as well as of Faṭima, daughter of the Prophet Moḥammad, both of whom had requested her to convert to Islam and let herself be seized by the Muslim masses as she was intended for a magnificent life. In Samarraʾ, the tenth Imam, having by prophecy acknowledged in her the future mother of the Mahdi, offered her in marriage to his son Ḥasan, the future eleventh Imam. Signs of the mother’s pregnancy as well as the birth of the child were astoundingly covered, since the ʿAbbasids wanted to abolish an anticipated child whom persistent gossips labeled as a Savior. The father revealed the baby to some forty close disciples, and then the child was concealed. According to numerous versions, the eleventh imam is said to have adopted a two-fold method to promise the child’s refuge. First, apart from his close circle, the Imam retained the birth of the child undisclosed, going so far as to entitle his mother, Ḥodayṯ, as his sole heir. Now, it is well known that according to Imami law, under some circumstances the legacy belongs to the mother of the deceased when the final does not leave behind a child. Secondly, Imam Ḥasan al-ʿAskari had alternative to a trick to cloud the matter and divert attention. Sometime beforehand his death in 874, he allowed a report to spread that his servant Ṣaqil was expecting with his child. Informants of the caliph al-Moʿtamed carefully observed the activities of the Imam, who was kept under surveillance in the military camp at Sāmarrāʾ.< The Cave in Sāmarrāʾ is where the Hidden Imam is said to have arisen his occultation. Typologically, one can differentiate three groupings of stories of encounters, based on the prime dimension endorsed: a altruistic dimension in which the great kindness of the Hidden Imam towards his advocates and his worry for their comfort are stressed; an initiatory aspect in which the Imam demonstrates his followers prayers, conveys divine knowledge, and endures secrets; and lastly, an eschatological element, presented primarily by late spiritual sources, in which the happenstance encourages a believer’s specific spiritual revivification.
The end of time and rising of the Mahdi- The “end of time” or the date of the ultimate arrival of the Hidden Imam, is unknown and followers are insisted to anticipate liberation tolerantly and virtuously. The future approaching of the Savior is the most recurrently quoted topic in prophecies made by the Prophet, Faṭima, and the Imams: complete extensive chapters are devoted to the subject in the sources. This future is foreshadowed by a number of signs. The widespread signs are the prevalent invasion of the earth by Wicked, the overpowering of knowledge by unawareness, and the loss of an intelligence of the blessed and all that associates man to God and his neighbors. These, in some degree, require the demonstration and the rising of the Qāʾem, or else mortality will be astounded by obscurity. cite “Furthermore, there are certain specific signs among which five recur more regularly and are hence justifiably called the “five signs”: (1) the coming of Sofyāni, the enemy of the Qāʾem, who will command an army in battle against the latter (2) the advent of Yamāni, who appears in the Yemen to preach support for the Qāʾem; (3) the Cry/Scream of supernatural origin, coming from the sky and calling man to defend the Imam’s cause; (4) the swallowing of an army composed of the Imam’s enemies in a desert often located between Mecca and Medina, according to a hadith most likely propagated by ʿAbd-Allāh b. Zobayr during his war propaganda against the Umayyad caliph Yazid, during the latter’s campaign against Mecca and Medina, popularized by the traditionist of Basra, Qatāda and (5) the assassination by the Meccans of the messenger to the Qāʾem, often called Nafs or al-Nafs al-Zakiya (echoing the messianic rebellion and death in 762 of the Hasanid Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-Allāh, surnamed al-Nafs al-Zakiya).” 
The Mahdi accordingly becomes visible, all the while having inexplicably kept his youth. He combats and ultimately deracinates Evil, re-establishing the world to its novel wholesome state. For this to happen, he must first retaliate the slaying of Imam Ḥosayn in order that the common of Muslims be removed of the wicked corruption that it ever committed. Furthermore, according to the eschatological guideline of rajʿa, a definite number of previous saints, fatalities of their society’s prejudice, and their oppressors originate back to life in order that the moral may take retaliation on the malicious ones. The Redeemer will so not only re-establish Islam, but all faiths, to their wholesomeness and new veracity, creating “submission to God” the worldwide religion. He will also convey knowledge to manhood by enlightening the obscure secrets of Holy Scriptures.
The whole world will be taken to submission. Powers of inequality and obliviousness will be all eliminated, the earth will be inflated with justice and wisdom, and morality revitalized by knowledge. The Mahdi accordingly formulates the world for the last trial of the ultimate reappearance of the Last Judgment. According to some traditions, the Mahdi will be in control upon the earth for certain time, seven, nine or nineteen 7, 9, 19 years, after which ensues the death of all civilization just preceding the Judgment. Other traditions state subsequently the demise of the Qāʾem, the régime of the world will continue in the influences of the initiated for a definite period before the Day of Resurrection. .
Influence and consequences
Contrasting to Sunnism, where certainty in the Mahdi, although it existed, never developed into a vital article of the faith, in Shiʿism overall, and Twelver Imamism specifically, it is a constitutive doctrine of Shiite spiritual dogma, its dualist image of the world and more exactly his return marks the commencement of the “place of return” or the henceforth. Throughout Islamic history, Imami panegyric as well as hagiographic works devoted to the Hidden Imam tried hard to validate that the figure of the Mahdi, contemporary in Sunni hadith, mentioned to the twelfth Imam Imami urgings increased drive through the 13th century when certain great Sunni intellectuals subsidized their sustenance to the Imami doctrine of categorizing the Mahdi with the twelfth Imam:. “the two Syrian Shafiʿite scholars Moḥammad b. Yusof Ganji in his Bayān fi aḵbār ṣāḥeb al-zamān, composed in 1250-51, and Kamāl-al-Din Moḥammad ʿAdawi Naṣibini in his Maṭāleb al-soʾul, completed in 1252, and the renowned Sebṭ Ebn al-Jawzi in his Taḏkerat al-ḵawāṣṣ. Given the dates of these authors and their works, coinciding with the arrival of the Mongols, the end of Sunni caliphal power and the increasing political influence of the Imamis, one wonders if this doctrinal reversal was not dictated by a certain opportunism. One might note in this respect that Moḥammad b. Yusof Ganji was assassinated in Damascus in 1260 for having collaborated with the Mongol conquerors. In any case, it is from this period onward that one notices, from time to time, some learned Sunnis rallying to Imami Mahdism.” . The sensation is also manifest among Sunni sages. Already in the 11th century, Abu Bakr Bayhaqi had criticized the agreement of some Sufis regarding the documentation of the Mahdi with the last Imam of the Twelvers . Setting apart the effect of Imamism upon the eschatological hagiology of Ebn al-ʿArabi one can quote the devotee of the latter, Saʿd-al-Din Ḥammuya in his Farāʾed al-semṭayn, the Egyptian ʿAbd-al-Wahhāb Šaʿrāni in al-Yawāqit wa’l-jawāher or, more newly, the Naqšbandi master from Balkh, Solaymān Qonduzi in his Yanābiʾ al-mawadda . .
In Shia Islam "the Mahdi symbol has developed into a powerful and central religious idea." Twelver Shia Muslims believe that the Mahdi is Muhammad al-Mahdi, 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.
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.
Sadir al-Sayrafi says: I heard from Imam Abu Abdullah Jafar al-Sadiq that: ...
He whose rights have been taken away and who is denied (hazrat* mahdi (as)) will walk among them, move through their markets and walk where they walk. but they will not recognize hazrat mahdi (as) until Allah gives them leave to recognize him,just as He did with the Prophet Yusuf (as).
- Hazrat means "(His)Excellency" or His Eminence. Also AS or (as) means "To Him Peace" (Peace Upon Him)''
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.
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.
Quran and Hadiths on Mahdi
According to some Quranic exegetes a number of Quranic verses refer to Mahdi, for example in verse 11:86 the word baqiyatallah has been understood to be one of Mahdi's titles. Similarly, according to some viewpoints, verses 43:61, 9:32, and 24:55 are also indicative of Mahdi.
Linage of Mahdi-
Muhammad said: “Al-Mahdi is from my progeny; his face is like the brightly illuminated moon. He would be unknown until Allah wills it.” 
Biharul Anwar, Volume 51, Page 85; Kashful Ghammah
The City of Qum and the Helpers of the Imam
Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq said: “The city of Qum has been named so because its inhabitants will gather with the Qa’im from Ale Muhammad [lit. one who will rise up from the progeny of Muhammad] and will stand alongside him, will strive to be hold firm to (their belief and assistance) of him and will assist him.” 
Safinatul Bihar, Volume 2, Page 446
Women in the Imam’s Army- Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq said: “There will be thirteen women alongside al-Qa’im [when he makes his advent].”
Al-Mufadhal [the narrator of this tradition] asked the Imam: “And what will their role be?” The Imam replied: “They will treat the injured and look after the sick just as the [women did] at the time of the Messenger of Allah [during the battles].” 
Ithbatul Hudat, Volume 7, Page 150
The Most Beloved to the Prophets Muhammad said: “Congratulations to the person who meets the Qa’im [one who will rise] from my Ahlul Bayt and has firm belief in him before his advent. He will have love for his friends, and will distance himself from his enemies and will have love for the leaders of guidance (the Imams) who came before him. Indeed these are my true friends, those whom I have love and affection for and (they) are the noblest of people from my nation.” 
Biharul Anwar, Volume 52, Page 129; al-Ghaybah of Shaykh Tusi
Greeting Imam al-Mahdi
A man once asked Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq how he should send his salutations upon Imam al-Qa’im (may Allah hasten his advent) and the Imam replied:
”Say: Greetings be upon you, O Remnants of Allah [As-Salamu ‘Alaykum Ya Baqiyatullah]!” 
Biharul Anwar, Volume 52, Page 373, Tafsir Furat ibn Ibrahim Anticipate the Advent of the Imam
Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq said: " ... During that time (the period of the occultation), await the advent (of the Imam) every morning and evening ... " Usul al-Kafi, Volume 1, Page 323
When Will the Time Come?
Muhammad said: “The appointed time (of the Day of Resurrection) will not come until the one from among us (the Ahlul Bayt) will rise with the truth and make his advent [Imam al-Mahdi], and this will take place when Allah, the Noble and Grand permits. So whoever obeys him shall be saved, and whoever goes against him will be destroyed...” 
Wasa’il ash-Shi’a, Volume 7, Page 325, hadith 6
Prepare for the Imam
Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq said: “Each one of you must prepare (your weapons) for the advent of al-Qa’im (peace be upon him), even if it be (as little as) an arrow, because when Allah the High, knows that a person has this intention, then He will give him a longer life.” 
Biharul Anwar, Volume 52, Page 366; al-Ghaybah of al-Nu’mani
How to Die while on the Path of the Imam
Imam Ja’far ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq said: “The person from amongst you who dies while awaiting this command [the advent of Imam al-Mahdi] is like a person who was with al-Qa’im in his tent ... no rather, he would be like a person who was fighting along-side him with his sword ... no rather, by Allah, he would be like the person who attained martyrdom along-side the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him and his family).” 
Biharul Anwar, Volume 52, Page 126; al-Mahasin
The First Ranked Soldiers of the Imam Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Baqir said: “ ... Indeed he (al-Mahdi) will come and I swear by Allah that there will be three hundred and ten and some odd number of men with him and among them there will be fifty women who will all gather together in Makkah (to help him) ... ” 
Biharul Anwar, Volume 52, Page 223; Tafsir of al-’Ayyashi
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,. The prophecies concerning the Mahdi or the second coming of Jesus are seen by Ahmadis Muslims as metaphorical, in that one was to be born and rise within the dispensation of Muhammad, who by virtue of his similarity and affinity with Jesus of Nazareth, and the similarity in nature, temperament and disposition of the people of Jesus' time and the people of the time of the promised one (the Mahdi) is called by the same name. As the beliefs of all Muslims seems to be fulfilled yet in one person. Numerous Hadith are presented by the Ahmadi Muslims in support of their view such as one from Sunan Ibn Majah which says:
Ahmadi Muslims believe that the prophecies concerning the Mahdi and the second coming of Jesus have been fulfilled in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (1835–1908) the founder of the true Islam, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Movement. Contrary to mainstream Islam the Ahmadi Muslims do not believe that Jesus is alive in heaven, but that he survived the crucifixion and migrated toward the east where he died a natural death and that Ghulam Ahmad was only the promised spiritual second coming and likeness of Jesus, the promised Messiah and Mahdi.
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:
People 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".
Even though Mahdism is an important part of Sunni and Shi’ite literature, there is an alternative opinion 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 Judiasm, 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 on behalf of 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.
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 Sikhism
In Dasam Granth, the second scripture in Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh prophesised mahdi to be born for a purpose to destroy Kalki, an avatar of Vishnu. After Kalki win whole world, he become egoistic and will call himself almighty. The powerful and haughty Mahdi will kill him and rule the world.
- Martin 2004: 421
- Glasse 2001: 280
- Momen, Moojan (1985). An introduction to Shiʻi Islam : the history and doctrines of Twelver Shiʻism. G. Ronald. pp. 75,166–168. ISBN 9780853982005.
- Sonn (2004) p. 209
- "Isa", Encyclopedia of Islam
- Arjomand, Said Amir (Dec. 2007). "Islam in Iran vi., the Concept of Mahdi in Sunni Islam". Encyclopaedia Iranica XIV (Fasc. 2): 134–136.
- Sunan Abi Dawud: 11: 370
- (Vizier Mustafa, Emergence of Islam, p. 171
- Muntakab al Adhhar, p. 483
- Sunan Abu Dawud, 11/373; Sunan Ibn Maajah, 2/1368.
- Reported by bi Na’eem in Akhbaar al-Mahdi, see al-Jaami’ al-Sagheer, 5: 219, hadith 5796.
- Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitaab al-Mahdi, 11: 375, hadith 4265; Mustadrak al-Haakim, 4: 557; "he said: this is a saheeh hadeeth according to the conditions of Muslim, although it was not reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim". See also Sahih al-Jaami, 6736.
- 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-ahaadeeth al-saheehah," 2: 336, hadeeth 771.
- Syed Maududi, ‘’Tajdeed-o-Ahyaa-e-Deen’’, Islamic Publications Limited, Lahore, Pakistan, Chapeter: Imam Mehdi
- Allama Tamanna Imadi, ‘’Intizar-e-Mehdi-o-Maseeh’’, Al-Rahman Publishing Trust, Karachi, Pakistan
- Allama Habib-ur-Rahman Kandhlwi, Mehdaviyyat nay Islam ko Kiya Diya’’, Anjuman Uswa-e-Hasna, Karachi, Pakistan
- "Al-Mawrid". Al-Mawrid. 2009-09-25. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
- Allama Iqbal, ‘’Iqbal Nama, Volume 2’’, Bazm-e-Iqbal, Lahore, Pakistan, Letter No. 87
- "mahdī." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008.
- Moezzi, Amir. Islam in Iran vii. The Concept of Mahdi in Twelver Shi’ism. Encyclopaedia Iranica. pp. 136–143.
- Bihar al-Anwar: 95: 378; 102: 67, 117
- Mikyaal al-Makaarem: 1: 49
- Baqr al-Majlisi 2003: 70
- Bihar al-Anwar: 52: 326
- Bihar al-Anwar: 5: 328
- Bihar al-Anwar: 52: 391
- Sheikh Muhammad bin Ibrahim Nomani, al-Ghaybah al-Nomani, p.189
- Bihar al-Anwar: 51: 146
- Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Nomani: 189 (Sheikh Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Nomani, al-Ghaybah al-Nomani,p. 189
- Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Nomani: 191
- Ja'far al-Sadiq
- Reza, Saiyed Jafar. The essence of Islam. New Delhi: Concept Pub. Co. pp. 52–53. ISBN 8180698327.
- Mugahi, Abdul-Rahim. The Awaited Savior of Humanity (al-Mahdi in the Eyes of the Ahlul Bayt.. The Islamic Education Board of the World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities.
- "What is the different between a messiah and a prophet?". Ask Islam. 1985-08-13. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
- "The Holy Quran". Alislam.org. Retrieved 2012-04-29.
- Izzat, Arif, Muhammad (1997). 'Al Mahdi and the End of Time'. Dar al-Taqwa Ltd. (UK). ISBN 1-870582-75-6. p. 15,16
- Smith, P. (1999). A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications. pp. 55–59 & 229–230. ISBN 1851681841.
- Mahdi Moeud Ajjalallah; Mohammad Reza Rostami Daronkola (2011). "Microstructure of poly(vinyl acetate)-block-poly(methyl acrylate-co-methyl methacrylate) block terpolymers. 2D NMR and thermal study". Macromolecular Research (The Polymer Society of Korea, co-published with Springer) 19 (2): 156–165. doi:10.1007/s13233-011-0213-5. ISSN 1598-5032.
- 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.
- "اعتراض به انتساب یک مقاله به امام دوازدهم شیعیان" [Protests on the attribution of an article to the Twelfth Imam of the Shia]. BBC Persian (in Persian). BBC. May 4, 2011. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
- چرا امام زمان که در همه جا حضور دارند در آزمایشگاههای شیمی حضور نداشته باشند.
- Arjomand, Amir (2000). Origins and Development of Apocalypticism and Messianism in Early Islam: 610-750 CE. Oslo: Congress of the International Committee of the Historical Sciences.
- Kohlberg, Etan (24 December 2009). "From Imamiyya to Ithna-ashariyya". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 39 (03): 521–534. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00050989.
- Reza, Saiyed Jafar. The essence of Islam. Concept Pub. Co. p. 57. ISBN 9788180698323.
- Henry, Corbin (1993). History of Islamic philosophy (Reprinted. ed.). Kegan Paul International. p. 68. ISBN 9780710304162.
- page 146, The Encyclopedia of Sikhism (over 1000 Entries), HS Singha
- "Muqaddimah Ibn al-Salah", Sahih al-Bukhari, Dar al-Ma’aarif, pp. 160–169
- Ja'far al-Sadiq, Al-Ghaybah (The occultation): narrations from the prophecies of al-Mahdi by Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq, Mihrab Publishers
- Bihar al-Anwar
- Baqr al-Majlisi, Muhammad, ed. (2003), Kitab al-Ghaybat, Qom: Ansariyan Publications
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- Shauhat Ali, Millenarian and Messianic Tendencies in Islamic Thought (Lahore: Publishers United, 1993)
- Timothy Furnish, Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Jihad and Osama Bin Laden (Westport: Praeger, 2005) ISBN 0-275-98383-8
- Abdulaziz Abdulhussein Sachedina, Islamic Messianism: The Idea of the Mahdi in Twelver Shi'ism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1981) ISBN 0-87395-458-0
- Syaikh Hisyam Kabbani, The Approach of Armageddon (Islamic Supreme Council of America, 2002) ISBN 1-930409-20-6
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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 by 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